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USPSTF says screen all adults for depression

January 28, 2016
by Julia Brown, Associate Editor
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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a recommendation this week that all adults, including pregnant and postpartum women, be screened for depression by a primary care physician.

Published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the recommendation is an update for a depression screening in adults recommendation released in 2009 by the USPSTF. Neither group was included in the previous recommendation.

According to USPSTF, an independent expert panel, patients who were identified through a depression screening and sought treatment with antidepressant medication and/or psychotherapy had improved symptoms.

“Screenings should be implemented with adequate systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate follow-up,” according to USPSTF, and those with depression should be "appropriately diagnosed and treated with evidence-based care or referred to a setting that can provide the necessary care.”  

Research has found that a nine-question test called the Patient Health Questionnaire can effectively identify those at risk of having depression. USPSTF recommends a seven-question test for the general population and variations of these tests for older adults and women during the perinatal period.

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability in individuals age 15 years and older and is common among pregnant and postpartum women, which can also affect the child.