Primary-care docs should do depression screens, group says

A physicians' group has released guidelines recommending that primary-care doctors routinely screen adults for depression. The group, the American College of Preventive Medicine, notes that depressive disorders are associated with substantial morbidity and disability--and that the primary-care encounter is often the earliest and best opportunity to identify the disorder.

This conclusion squares with recent finding that depression is strikingly more common in the U.S. population than once previously thought, affecting 41 percent of people, ages 18 to 32.

Conducting depression screens can be as easy as having patients fill out well-known, reliable depression screening instruments while in the PCP waiting room, such as the Beck Depression Inventory and the Patient Health Questionnaire, which typically take about 5 to 10 minutes to complete, the group notes.

The ACPM would also like to see all PCPs make sure that depressed adults receive timely and appropriate treatment, whether through their own practices, or through an established mental health referral system.

To learn more about the guidelines:
- read this ACPM position statement

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