Expert health panel recommends questionnaire to aid diagnosis of Depression

When you will visit your family physician next, you may be asked to fill out a short questionnaire. The questionnaire would help your doctor assess whether you are suffering from any level of depression. This will happen if the US Preventive Services Task Force or USPSTF execute its plan of recommending that every adult should undergo depression screening during routine clinic visits irrespective of whether the physician has the ability to offer depression support or care.

The draft recommendation currently carries a “B” grade, which means that there’s high certainty that the overall benefit would be moderate, or there’s reasonable certainty that the overall benefit would be moderate to extensive. This recommendation broadens a 2009 statement by the USPSTF.

In 2009, the USPSTF recommended that screening should be done only if staff-assisted depression care supports are available. Also, it was also recommended that screening in the absence of adequate support should be done only on adults believed to be at risk of developing depression based on patient preference and professional judgment.

The new draft wants postpartum and pregnant women to be screened. Screening was recommended for these women even in 2009, but people at the USPSTF believed that significantly higher risks of having depression in these women deserve a special mention in the updated statement.

Public comments about these new recommendations might get submitted by August 24, 2015. USPSTF’s decision of including postpartum and pregnant women in the new recommendation draft has been praised by the ACOG (American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology).

Before preparing the new set of recommendations, USPSTF members analyzed 17 trials on women diagnosed with depression in primary care settings. All these women received treatment during the postpartum period.

Out of 17 trials, nine examined CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy. The results showed that after one year there has been a 35% rise in the chances of remission compared to usual care. Evidence available to the members was not sufficient for assessing any other non-CBT approach to peri-natal depression.

The analysis showed that depression screening don’t cause any harm to pregnant women or their babies. However, the USPSTF has noted that they have come across observational evidence, which indicates that using second-generation antidepressants can be harmful during pregnancy.


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