Depression comes in all shapes and sizes and it generally is a disorder that is quite hard to pin down and eliminate entirely. However, there are too many cases when people suffer form depression and but are completely unaware of this fact, which could generally make their lives much harder and even put them in danger. Furthermore, identifying a depressive disorder in its initial stages could make it easier for the patient to manage it.
This is why the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has proposed that regular depression screenings be included in the attributions of the primary care physician, because he or she is a medical professional who has extensive data on the patient’s history and his additional conditions. Therefore, he or she is the perfect person to asses the information rendered by the depression tests, in order to make the best decision on which the best options are most suited for the well being of the patient on a long term.
The proposed method of conducting the screening is to perform the standardized Patient Health Questionnaire for the assessment of depression,which includes a set of nine simple questions regarding the patient’s general state, his thoughts, his mood and his eating and sleeping patterns, which could shed some light on when a risk point has been reached, or even when an aggravated state has passed by undetected.
This questionnaire could be integrated in the medical examination routine as the primary care physician sees fit, whether during the examination or even outside it, when the patient could have more intimacy. The test could reveal that the patient might be suffering from several levels of depression, but it is not a complete diagnosis test; the questionnaire is a mere tool. In order for the doctor to be able to reach a clear diagnosis, he or she must perform additional examination and even refer the patient to a specialist.
As for the treatment plan, in the event that the screening reveals that the patient is undergoing a depressive episode, it is ideal that patient see a psychologist or even a psychiatrist, if the situation calls for it. It should be noted that medication alone is the least indicated treatment method, as cognitive behavioral therapy is crucial for identifying the trigger or triggers of the depression and for developing the perfect method to control the progression of the disorder.
This method could be extremely effective in lowering the rate of depression among US citizens, because promoting prevention and accurate and timely treatment could greatly reduce the overall prevalence of the disorder. Furthermore, it could prove effective in identifying the women who are at risk for developing postpartum depression, so that they can receive the appropriate medical attention for that.
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