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Panel advises depression screening for US teens

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AP
Monday, March 30, 2009

An influential government-appointed medical panel is urging doctors to routinely screen all American teens for depression _ a bold step that acknowledges that nearly 2 million teens are affected by this debilitating condition.Most are undiagnosed and untreated, said the panel, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which sets guidelines for doctors on a host of health issues.

The task force recommendations appear in April’s issue of the journal Pediatrics. And they go farther than the American Academy of Pediatrics’ own guidance for teen depression screening.

An estimated 6 percent of U.S. teenagers are clinically depressed. Evidence shows that detailed but simple questionnaires can accurately diagnose depression in primary-care settings such as a pediatrician’s office.

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The task force said that when followed by treatment, including psychotherapy, screening can help improve symptoms and help kids cope. Because depression can lead to persistent sadness, social isolation, school problems and even suicide, screening to treat it early is crucial, the panel said.

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This article was posted: Monday, March 30, 2009 at 10:46 am





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