Studies indicate that one-in-five U.S. children have some for of mental, behavioral or emotional problems. Among teens, one –in- eight may suffer from depression with only about 30 percent receiving any treatment. Those are troubling statistics for parents, caregivers and health professionals.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), believes more needs to be done to help these children and has recommended that primary care physicians screen all patients between the ages of 12 and 18 for major depression.
Screening tools are available to help primary care doctors accurately identify major depression in adolescent patients, and there are effective treatments for this age group, the task force said.
"Primary care clinicians can play an important role in helping to identify adolescents with major depressive disorder and getting them the care they need. Accordingly, the task force recommends that primary care clinicians screen all adolescents between 12 and 18 years old for this condition," task force member Dr. Alex Krist said in a USPSTF news release.
Currently, there isn’t enough evidence to know whether screening children 11 and younger would be beneficial. The task force noted that more research on depression screening and treatment in this age group is needed.
The consequences of undiagnosed and treated major depression in teens can have serious consequences such as involvement in the criminal justice system, drug or alcohol abuse and in some cases, suicide.
"It is important to take any concern about depression seriously, regardless of age, and any parent who has a concern about their child's mood or behavior should talk with their child's primary care clinician," he said in the news release. Kemper is a professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C.
The recommendation was published online Feb. 9 in the Annals of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.
For more information about child and teen depression, one resource is The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at http://www.aacap.org.
You can also talk with your family doctor or pediatrician if you feel your child is suffering from depression. They should have resources for you as well.
Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160208/doctors-should-screen-teens-for-major-depression-us-task-force-says