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Government Panel Recommends Depression Screens For Teens

April 1, 2009
USA News That Matters
Scientific American

All teens should be screened for depression, even if they don’t necessarily show signs of the blues, an influential government panel is recommending, noting that the majority of afflicted teens aren’t diagnosed or treated even though there are effective therapies.

Kids ages 12 to 18 should be routinely screened for the mood disorder with standardized depression tests by their pediatrician or family doctor, the U.S. Preventative Task Force said today. The panel’s new recommendation — an update of its 2002 assessment, when it said there wasn’t enough evidence to advise such screening — is set to be published in next month’s Pediatrics.

The task force, which tends to run conservative in its screening guidance, modified its advice after concluding that antidepressants and psychotherapy reduce depression symptoms in teens, and that most teens who are suffering aren’t diagnosed or treated. It said it still doesn’t recommend routine screens for younger children because there isn’t enough evidence to show that those same tests and treatments help them.

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