The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.
The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that primary care doctors screen their adult patients for depression if they have a system in place to support case management and/or mental health treatment. Elderly should be screened if depression is suspected based on risk factors or presentation. There are a number of different questionnaires to screen for depression. One example of screening is using 2 simple questions:
The US Preventive Services Task Force also found some indication that office screening tools may be accurate in identifying depressed adolescents aged 12-18 years. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians ask questions about depression in routine history-taking throughout adolescence.
Major depressive disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Available at: Updated March 31, 2016. Accessed August 10, 2016.
Depression in elderly patients. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Available at: Updated May 31, 2016. Accessed August 10, 2016.
Screening for depression in adults. US Preventative Services Task Force website. Available at: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/depression-in-adults-screening. Accessed September 30, 2015.
Screening for depression in children and adolescents. US Preventative Services Task Force website. Available at: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/depression-in-children-and-adolescents-screening. Accessed September 30, 2015.
Last reviewed August 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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