Screen All Teens for Depression Says Gov't

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depressionNo more brushing depression in teens off as something they'll "grow out of," or as a mere trait of being a teenager. According to April's Pediatrics, a government appointed panel of medical experts for the US Preventive Services Task Force now advises that primary care doctors routinely screen all patients ages 12-18 for clinical depression. In 2002, it had been concluded that there was not enough evidence to recommend such screening, so the new findings represent a major shift in thinking. Good thing.

An estimated 2 million teens and preteens or 1 in 12 experience clinical depression each year. jenlesly, like so many other moms, believes her daughter may be among them. For three months mom has grounded her daughter because of failing grades and the fact that she decided to get a belly and tongue ring without permission. Mom even took her iPod away. But nothing is motivating the teen  to change says jenlesly. Instead, she seems more depressed and angry and now jenlesly has even discovered a video of her daughter cutting class and smoking weed.

The thinking is that with mandated screening, girls like jenlesly's daughter won't slip through the cracks--substance abuse and social isolation are major depression indicators.

But according to US News and World Report, "The new recommendation comes with a serious caveat: that adolescents should be screened only 'when systems are in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, psychotherapy, and follow-up,' the panel said."

This is because with the new screening policy, there is growing fear among parents and the mental health community about the possibility of over-diagnosis and an over prescription of antidepressants, drugs which can actually  raise the risk of suicidal thoughts or actions in adolescents.

Do you believe your child is depressed? What do you think about regular screening for depression in teens?

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