The American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed new guidelines on Monday calling for universal screening for depression in teenagers.
The guidelines were first published in 2007 in the journal Pediatrics and were a response to the fact that, because children and teens do not receive adequate access to mental health professionals, they’re not getting properly diagnosed with depression. The 2007 version of the guidelines read:
Research shows that only 50% of adolescents with depression are diagnosed before they reach adulthood. In primary care (PC), as many as 2 in 3 depressed youth are not identified by their PC clinicians and do not receive any kind of care. Even when diagnosed by PC physicians, only half of these patients are treated appropriately.
Now, over 10 years later, the AAP-endorsed guidelines have been updated as many primary care pediatricians still say it’s not in the scope of their practice to manage adolescent depression. Because of this, the new guidelines help pediatricians train their practice to provide mental health care for patients.
The new update also fully endorses implementing a universal screening for those 12 and up for depression, something not previously found in the 2007 version. The screening would be through a self-reporting form, which co-author of the guidelines Rachel A. Zuckerbrot tells NPR make more sense with teenagers who open up more when they’re not directly answering a doctor’s questions.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 3.1 million teenagers aged 12 to 17 in the US have had at least one major depressive episode, which are more prevalent among teen girls. And a 2016 study found that depression in teenagers is on the rise, with adolescents experiencing major depressive episodes in a 12-month period increased from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014.