U.S. adults should be screened for depression, says an influential panel of government-backed experts.

Screening for depression can ultimately help reduce or stop depression symptoms from coming back, lessens other healthcare needs and improve the lives of pregnant or postpartum women with depression, in agreement with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force( USPSTF ).

After reviewing previous examines, the panel found that “if you just wait for patients to say they’re depressed, you miss a significant number of people who are depressed and would benefit from therapy, ” said Dr. Michael Pignone, a USPSTF member and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of people with disabilities among adults in high-income countries, in agreement with the USPSTF. The cost of treating depression in the U.S. reached virtually $23 billion in 2009, and lost productivity from the condition likely cost the nation an estimated $23 billion in 2011.

The recommendation published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association is an update to the panel’s 2009 recommendation that supported depression screening for adults if their doctors’ offices were capable of providing quality care, or among selected patients even if that care were not available.

“We genuinely simply tried to have clearer language, ” Pignone told Reuters Health.

The panel now says everyone age 18 or older should be screened for depression with adequate systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective therapy and appropriate follow-up.

“If you’re going to screen, you need to do it well, ” said Pignone.

While the USPSTF doesn’t endorse a specific screening technique or define how often people should be screened, Pignone said it could be as simple as answering two questions on a kind before a patient goes in to consider their doctor.

“There is no reason why you can’t do the screening right there( in the waiting room) on an iPad, ” said Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford Health Care in California.

Humphreys, who was not involved with crafting the new recommendations, told Reuters Health he approves of them.

“The reality of American healthcare is that mental health must continue to be done in primary care, ” he said.

Pignone said the potential damages from depression screening are minimal. Also, numerous treatment options are available, which entails side effects can often be overcome by switching to another treatment.

“There is always another treatment option available that doesn’t have those impacts, ” he said. Those treatments include drug, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy( CBT) and even simple observation.

The panel’s proof review indicated antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy can be quite effective for the average adult with depression. Other analyses presented CBT to be effective among pregnant and postpartum girls, which the USPSTF highlightings as a group especially in need of screening.

“That could be quite beneficial, ” said Humphreys of pregnant and postpartum females. “That’s a population that does have a high rate of depression that’s generally treatable.”

Other organisations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend some sort of depression screening for pregnant or postpartum women. The American Academy of Family Physicians also endorses screening for all adults.

More on this…