Every Teen Should Be Screened for Depression, AAP Says in New Guidelines

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Depression is a serious issue among adolescents. And that’s why the new AAP guidelines call for universal depression screening for teens. What can often seem like teen angst, moodiness or just typical teenage drama may actually be something that requires real medical attention. With one out of every five teenagers experiencing depression, according to the AAP, the updated guidelines are more than welcome.

There’s a problem affecting our teens — and it’s depression. Scratch that. It’s undiagnosed depression. Even though depression is becoming increasingly common in teens, it often goes undetected. Almost half of teens who suffer from depression are diagnosed by doctors. And that’s just not good enough.

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In an effort to cut this stat down, the AAP’s guidelines recommend depression screenings for all children ages 12 and up. This doesn’t mean that only the kids who show signs of depression or are at risk receive services. Nope. ALL teens need screenings.

Depression screenings don’t have to take place in a mental health setting. The annual well-visit, school/sports physicals or any other time that a child sees the doctor are all opportune times to screen.

Instead of face-to-face interviews, many pediatricians choose self-reported surveys that the teen fills out. The use of questionnaires reduces the embarrassment factor and may make a teen less likely to lie or cover-up their feelings.

The hope here is that by encouraging doctors to regularly screen all teens, the medical professionals can catch potential problems early on and provide the help that depressed adolescents desperately need.

What do you think about the new AAP guidelines? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

—Erica Loop



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