Every adult (yes, even you) should be screened for depression, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The group noted that depression is the leading cause of disability in people over 15.
This recommendation is a huge deal. Just think of the number of screenings the government suggests everyone should undergo—you can probably count them on two hands.
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The screening is really just a set of questions primary care doctors can ask during regular checkups. The hope is the answers to these questions (like “How many times in the last two weeks have you felt like a failure?” or “Have you been feeling tired, zapped of your energy?”) will lead to more early diagnoses, and even help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. After all, if you’re being asked about depressive symptoms right after measuring your height and weight, it has to be pretty common. (And it is: One in four Americans deals with a mental health problem.)
These recommendations are similar to the guidelines released by the task force in 2009, but this time around the group emphasized the importance of screening women who are pregnant or recently gave birth: About 9 percent of pregnant women and one in 10 new moms experience some form of depression.