Screening for Depression

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

Screening Guidelines

Currently, there are no screening guidelines for depression. Once you experience symptoms, your doctor will evaluate you as part of the diagnostic process. Many patients report chronic physical symptoms to their physicians that can be attributed to depression, but few doctors screen for the condition, which often goes undiagnosed.

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that primary care physicians screen their adult patients for depression, using two 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 guidelines can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstfix.htm.



Last reviewed April 2007 by Janet Greenhut, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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