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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Panel: Test all teens for depression



63308952 Having lived through the angst of teen years, I hope it prepared me for the time when my two sons hit those years. I think I can gently guide them through the difficult transition from child to nearly adult. But according to a government panel that may not be enough.

This panel is recommending that every American teen be routinely screened for depression, a disease which is said to afflict about 2-million teens.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force sets guidelines for doctors on primary-care treatment for many health issues. The report, which appears in the April edition of the journal Pediatrics, even says that teens who do not show signs should be screened as well.Other groups only advise that high-risk teens be screened.

According to a release from the group, depressed children and adolescents are at an increased risk of suicide, which is the third-leading cause of death among people ages 15-24. Nearly 6 percent of adolescents 13-18 years of age are clinically depressed, and it is more common among girls than boys.

So how do you tell a moody teen from a teen who is indeed depressed? The panel says a simple questionnaire that can be administered at a pediatrician's office would likely do the trick. The questions would look at behaviors that tend to be tied to depression, such as mood, anxiety, appetite and substance abuse.

While I really want the best care for kids, this feels a little like Big Brother. Or could kids who show no signs of depression really be ill? When I take my tween in for his annual check up later this year, I'll definitely ask.

-- Sherry Robinson

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:00am]


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