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Panel Backs Teen Screen for Major Depression

March 30, 2009

Primary care providers should routinely screen their teenage patients for major depression, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended. In reviewing the scientific literature on the risks and benefits of depression testing and treatment, the task force found enough evidence that it helps more than it harms to justify screening adolescents in routine pediatric practice. The group reported in the April issue of Pediatrics.

 Laurie Flynn, executive director of the TeenScreen mental health testing program at Columbia University, called the task force recommendation "a major step forward in improving teen health and reducing youth suicide in the United States." She urged pediatricians and family practice physicians to begin routine screening of adolescents as soon as possible. Flynn also called on insurers and the public healthcare sector to ensure access to the recommended screening.

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