Depression Screening in Adults

Overview

Depression is an illness that makes you feel sad, lose interest in things you used to enjoy, and withdraw from others. It's more than normal sadness, grief, or low energy. Treatment can help you enjoy life again.

What is depression screening?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all people, starting at age 12, be screened for depression by their doctor. Screening for depression helps find depression early. And early treatment may help people recover faster.

Depression screening is a quick way for a doctor to see if you have symptoms of depression. This screening is often part of a routine checkup. That's because your mental health is just as important as your physical health. And depression is very common. It affects people of all ages.

Your doctor may ask you about such things as:

  • Feelings of sadness.
  • Any changes in your interest in everyday activities, your hunger or weight, your energy level, your concentration, and your sleep.
  • Any thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

You may be asked to fill out a form about your depression symptoms. You and the doctor will discuss your answers. The doctor may ask you more questions to learn more about how you think, act, and feel.

What happens after depression screening?

If you have signs of depression, your doctor will talk to you about your options.

Doctors usually treat depression with medicines or counseling. Often, combining the two works best. Many people don't get help because they think that they'll get over the depression on their own. But people with depression may not get better unless they get treatment.

Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed about having depression. But it isn't a sign of personal weakness. It's not a character flaw. A person who is depressed is not "crazy." Depression is caused by changes in the brain.

A serious symptom of depression is thinking about death or suicide. If you or someone you care about talks about this or about feeling hopeless, get help right away.

It's important to know that depression can be treated. The first step toward feeling better is often just seeing that the problem exists.

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