Depression is among the leading causes of disability in persons 15 years and older, the panel noted.
Millions of adults suffer from depression and don’t know it, said Dr. Michael Thase, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
At any given time, between 5 percent and 10 percent of U.S. adults suffer from a depressive disorder, but half receive no treatment for their depression, Thase said.
Some people may not want to acknowledge they are depressed because there is a stigma around mental illness, Pignone said. Others might just think they are feeling blue, and will get over it.
The most common screening tool, the Patient Health Questionnaire, consists of 10 simple questions that can be answered in minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“The task force recommendation is that people should be screened at least once,” he said. “For the meantime, clinicians should use their judgment about the risk of depression in their patients, in deciding how often to screen.”
Treating depression can help patients face other health problems with which they are struggling. “As depression gets worse, so many other chronic illnesses also get worse,” Manevitz said. “People don’t take care of their health as well when they are depressed.”
More information on treating depression and resources can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration. Visit them at www.SAMHSA.gov.
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