Pediatricians Call For Universal Depression Screening For Teens

March 16, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


The American Academy of Pediatrics has released updated guidelines on adolescent depression. The guidelines recommend that primary care physicians screen for depression in patients ages 12 and older at least once a year. Most pediatricians who include depression screening in their practices use self-report questionnaires that patients fill out themselves. Allowing teens to answer the questionnaires privately helps make them feel more comfortable disclosing, according to Rachel Zuckerbrot, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist and associate professor at Columbia University. The updated guidelines also recommend that families develop safety plans for adolescents who are depressed. Such plans can help prevent suicide and self-harm by temporarily limiting access to lethal means, such as firearms or medications. Zuckerbrot, who co-authored the guidelines, said that adolescent depression can often be hard for families to detect. “Sometimes teens are acting out or misbehaving,” and might be seen as hostile. “When, instead, they’re really suffering from depression.”

Spark Extra! Read the guidelines.