Why Depression Screening Matters

Screening for depression is the best way to provide an early diagnosis, which can speed up the recovery process.

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Mental health conditions, including major depressive disorder, affect almost 20 million people in the United States each year.

Although depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, educating people on the signs of depression can help them to recognize depression in themselves and others.

Depression screening by healthcare providers is important because it can diagnose depression early. Treating depression early may make the recovery process faster.

Defining Depression

Depression is a common mental disorder that is often linked to chemical imbalances in the brain and especially traumatic life events.

The condition can negatively affect how you think, act, and feel, causing feelings of hopelessness and profound sadness.

Depression can also cause various emotional and physical problems and affect your ability to function at school, work, or home.

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Depression Rates In Massachusetts

In February 2023, 30.8% of adults residing in Massachusetts reported symptoms of a depressive disorder, compared to the 32.3% average in the United States.

In Massachusetts, 18.6% of adults reported being told by a mental health professional that they have a depressive disorder.

The Impact Of Depression On Individuals

Depression can have various impacts on individuals. Not every person is affected by depression in the same way.

The effects of depression include:

  • gastrointestinal issues
  • back pain
  • limb pain
  • chronic joint pain
  • excessive sleepiness
  • insomnia
  • changes in appetite
  • affected motor function
  • inability to feel pleasure
  • lack of motivation
  • restlessness
  • achiness
  • irritability
  • sadness
  • suicidal thoughts

Dysregulation of serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters is linked to both depression and pain. This dysregulation causes the physical and emotional effects of depression.

The Importance Of Depression Screening

Depression screening is especially important because depression can have a powerful effect on the quality of the lives of those living with depression and their families.

There is sufficient evidence that treatment with antidepressants and psychotherapy decreases morbidity and improves outcomes in those with depression.

Early Intervention

Depression screening may allow for early intervention, which may provide access to effective healthcare by taking action before depression worsens.

Early intervention also plays a significant role in increasing the speed of recovery from depression and reducing the severity of depression symptoms.

Decreased Risk Of Co-occurring Disorders

An individual with a co-occurring disorder such as substance abuse is more likely to be hospitalized than an individual with a mental disorder or substance use disorder alone.

When depression screening is provided, and the individual gets the proper treatment, they are at a decreased risk of developing co-occurring disorders, including substance use disorders.

Improved Outcomes

Studies provide relatively strong evidence that depression screening can accurately identify a depressive disorder and that treatment can lead to the improvement or remission of symptoms.

Depression screening in a primary care setting may also drastically increase the likelihood of getting the proper treatment for those who are typically left undertreated, such as older adults and racial and ethnic minorities.

Suicide Prevention

Research has shown that screening for depression may not be sufficient to identify suicide risk. Depression screening is best used in combination with suicide risk screening.

The ASK Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ) tool is a set of four screening questions that can be used for adolescents and adults to gauge suicide risk.

When the ASQ is combined with depression screening, it can play a crucial role in suicide prevention.

Common Screening Tools For Depression

There are a variety of common screening tools for depression. Each of these tools may be used in different settings and evaluate mental health in various ways.

Beck Depression Inventory

The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is commonly used to screen for depression and measure the behavioral manifestations of depression as well as the severity of depression.

The BDI consists of 21 depression-related questions that are self-reported. A higher BDI score indicates a more severe level of depression.

Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale

The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) was created for use within the general population and is often used as a depression screening tool in primary care settings.

The CES-D includes 20 self-reported items that are scored on a 4-point scale, which gauges the major components of depression someone has experienced in the past week.

Hamilton Depression Rating Scale

The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D or HDRS) evaluates depression levels in individuals before, during, and after treatment.

The scale is scored based on 17 items, which are measured on a 3 or 5-point scale, depending on the test version. The HDRS is one of the most widely used clinical depression assessment scales.

Current Public Health Initiatives To Reduce Depression Rates

There are various current public health initiatives aiming to reduce the rates of depression in the United States.

Department Of Health And Human Services Initiative

In March of 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $35 million in funding to strengthen and expand community mental health services and suicide prevention programs.

The initiative provides seven grant programs that will expand access to proven treatments and interventions while developing new solutions for mental health services.

Biden-Harris Administration Mental Health Initiative

In May 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a comprehensive national strategy to change how mental health is accessed, treated, and understood.

The Department of Education announced $95 million in grants to be awarded across 35 states to provide access to school-based mental health services.

Through SAMHSA, over $200 million will be given to states, call centers, territories, and tribal organizations to strengthen 988 operations.

The administration has also announced tens of billions of dollars in funding to be used to enhance behavioral health services for Americans in 2024.

Treatment Options For Depression

There are a variety of treatment options for depression. Treatments include psychotherapy, medications, and relaxation techniques. Treatment options may be used alone or combined.

Evidence-Based Psychotherapy

Psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) seek to help someone understand their thoughts and behaviors.

CBT teaches someone how to overcome negative thoughts and unhealthy behaviors to improve their overall mood.

CBT is just one evidence-based psychotherapy that can be used to treat depression.

Medication Management

Depression is commonly managed with antidepressants. Antidepressants may be used as an initial treatment for individuals with mild, moderate, or severe depressive episodes.

In general, due to overall safeness, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are considered first-line options for treatment.

Medication is often started at lower doses and then increased or decreased based on the individual’s response to the medication and the side effects they experience.

Get Depression Treatment In Massachusetts

If you or a loved one are seeking depression treatment in Massachusetts, we can help.

Contact our team at Bedrock Recovery Center to learn more about the depression treatment options we offer.

  1. The American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP) https://www.aap.org/en/patient-care/blueprint-for-youth-suicide-prevention/strategies-for-clinical-settings-for-youth-suicide-prevention/screening-for-suicide-risk-in-clinical-practice/
  2. American Family Physician https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2012/0115/p139.html/
  3. America's Health Rankings https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/measures/Depression_a/MA/
  4. American Psychiatric Association https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression/
  5. American Psychological Association (APA) https://www.apa.org/depression-guideline/assessment/
  6. Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics/
  7. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) https://www.kff.org/statedata/mental-health-and-substance-use-state-fact-sheets/massachusetts/#:~:text=As%20shown%20in%20the%20figure,of%20adults%20in%20the%20U.S./
  8. Massachusetts General Hospital https://www.massgeneral.org/psychiatry/news/depression-screening/
  9. National Institute Of Mental Health (NIMH) https://www.nimh.nih.gov/research/research-conducted-at-nimh/asq-toolkit-materials/
  10. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC486942/#:~:text=Physical%20symptoms%20are%20common%20in,activity%20changes%2C%20and%20appetite%20changes./
  11. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6957632/
  12. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5310101/
  13. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3759572/
  14. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7092613/
  15. National Health Services (NHS): United Kingdom https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/depression-in-adults/treatment/
  16. Science Direct https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-4377-1927-7.00008-X
  17. Substance Abuse And Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) https://www.samhsa.gov/co-occurring-disorders/
  18. Substance Abuse And Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) https://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/20220309/hhs-announces-35-million-strengthen-mental-health/
  19. The White House https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/05/18/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-announces-new-actions-to-tackle-nations-mental-health-crisis/
  20. Train Smart Australia https://tsa.edu.au/blog/benefits-of-early-intervention-in-mental-health/
  21. The United States Department of Veteran Affairs https://www.pbm.va.gov/PBM/AcademicDetailingService/Documents/508/IB10-1213_Guidetodepressionandtheroleofevidencebasedpsychotherapies_508Ready.pdf/
  22. The United States Preventative Services Taskforce https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/screening-depression-suicide-risk-adults/
  23. The University Of California, San Francisco https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2022/08/423496/routine-depression-screening-may-capture-underdiagnosed-patient-populations/
  24. The University Of Florida https://dcf.psychiatry.ufl.edu/files/2011/05/HAMILTON-DEPRESSION.pdf/
  25. University Of Washington Medicine https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/mind/mental-health/body-on-depression

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: November 10, 2023

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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