Primary care doctors should routinely screen adolescents, ages 12 to 18, for major depression, says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The benefits of screening outweigh any risks if doctors can assure accurate diagnosis, treatment and follow-up, according to the task force.
That's a change from 2002, when the task force concluded there wasn't sufficient evidence to recommend or oppose screening for adolescents. The task force said there's still not enough evidence to make a recommendation about depression screening for children ages 7 to 11, USA Today reported.
In an article in the journal Pediatrics, the task force noted that questionnaires can accurately identify depression in adolescents, and that there's new evidence that therapy and/or some antidepressants can help depressed teens. They emphasized the need for careful monitoring, because it's been shown that antidepressants can increase suicidal behavior in teens.
About 1 in 20 teens suffers depression, which is associated with lower grades, more physical illness, increased drug use, and early pregnancy, USA Today reported.