Screening for Depression

The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Guidelines

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that primary care doctors screen their adult patients for depression if they have a system in place to support case management and/or mental health treatment. There are a number of different questionnaires to screen for depression. One example of screening is using 2 simple questions:
  • Over the past 2 weeks, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?
  • Over the past 2 weeks, have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?
The US Preventive Services Task Force also found some indication that office screening tools may be accurate in identifying depressed adolescents aged 12-18 years. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians ask questions about depression in routine history-taking throughout adolescence.


Depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated September 15, 2015. Accessed September 30, 2015.

Screening for depression in adults. US Preventative Services Task Force website. Available at: Accessed September 30, 2015.

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