More depression screening recommended

U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends depression screenings for adults

When you go to the doctor, you are used to having your blood pressure, weight and temperature taken. In addition to these, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is also recommending that you answer some questions related to sleep patterns, energy level and appetite, among others. Why? To screen for depression.

Depression affects not only individuals but families, businesses and society, and is common in patients seeking care from primary care providers. Depression also is common in pregnant women and women who have just given birth, and can have consequences on the baby.

“In pregnant and postpartum women, treating depression quickly can improve the health of baby as well as mom,” said Lyndsey Neese, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist with Norton Children’s Hospital Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists.

If you think you may be experiencing depression, talk to your physician right away. There are many medication and non-medication treatments available. If you do not have a physician, call (502) 629-1234 or find one online.

Depression in pregnant women has been linked to preterm birth, low birth weight, mood changes and developmental delays in babies.

“Treatment doesn’t always involve medication out of caution for the baby,” said Dr. Neese, who is also medical director of Obstetrical Services at Norton Hospital.

It is estimated that 7 percent of adults experience some level of depression. It can be a reason for disability; it increases the risk of death; and it affects a person’s quality of life. Because of this, waiting for patients to bring concerns about depression up at appointments isn’t enough.

The panel found that “if you wait for patients to say they’re depressed, you miss a significant number of people who are depressed and would benefit from treatment,” said Michael Pignone, M.D., a USPSTF member and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“As medical providers, we know that mental health is just as important as physical health,” said Joshua Honaker, M.D., pediatrician and system vice president, Norton Medical Group. “By adding additional screening for depression, we can get people connected to the help they need, allowing them to live better lives.”

Signs and symptoms of depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings 
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism 
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy 
  • Fatigue and decreased energy 
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions 
  • Difficulty sleeping, including insomnia or early-morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much 
  • Overeating or appetite loss 
  • Thoughts of death, suicide, hurting yourself or others 
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment

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