Pediatricians say all teens should undergo regular depression screening


WASHINGTON (NBC/WAVY) — Pediatricians are recommending that teens be regularly screened for depression.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its guidelines on depression, saying all kids ages 12 and older should undergo screening at wellness checkups.

And if necessary, pediatricians should offer treatment plan options — as well as a treatment “team approach” that includes the patient, their family and access to mental health education and experts.

READ: Full Guidelines From American Academy of Pediatrics

Researchers have found that major depression is common among adolescents, but only 50 percent get diagnosed before adulthood.

Only half of the patients who are diagnosed with depression receive are treated appropriately.

Local pediatrician, Dr. Robert Fink, told 10 On Your Side all of his patients, 10 and older, have been screened for depression the last several years.  He believes it’s making a difference. “We’re picking up more kids, we’re able to direct them to counseling where they need it, we’re also able to get them on pharmacotherapy where they need it.”

The thing he wants parents to know is that its often best for the teen to do with independent of them.  “There’s some issues we need to routinely discuss with teenagers without the parent present and that we can bring the parent back into the room to discuss it….so they don’t need to be involved at the primary disclosure when the child is telling us but we will convince the child that its important to let your parents know what’s going on so they can be part of the help.”

The academy says its new guidelines distinguish between mild, moderate, and severe forms of depression. Psychology researchers have found nine specific symptoms of depression can cluster together, run in families, and have a genetic basis.

The guidelines recommend developing a safety plan as needed — including restrictions on any firearms in the home.

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