Harvard Health Letter

Do you need a depression screening?

News Briefs

Don't be surprised if your doctor screens you for depression at your next visit. An update to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations for screenings, published Jan. 26, 2016, in The Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that all adults 18 or older, including older adults, should be screened for depression when there are systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate follow-up. The previous recommendations encouraged selective screening based on professional judgment and patient preferences. The new recommendation also includes pregnant and postpartum women for the first time. "Older adults often struggle with chronic disease, or the loss of a loved one, which may lead to depression," says Dr. Michael Craig Miller, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "Screening is just a way to open the door for people who might otherwise not get the help they need." Dr. Miller says screening can simply be asking if, over a two-week period, you have either had little interest or pleasure in doing things or felt depressed and hopeless.