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A Quick Test Can Identify Teens with Depression

depressionAccording to new research, a simple pen and paper assessment at the beginning of a primary care visit can help practitioners determine if a teen is suffering from depression.[1] Identifying depression is often challenging among teens and young adults, which can potentially have serious health consequences.1

In the study, Sharolyn Dihigo, RN, DNP, a nurse practitioner and clinical assistant professor in the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing, examined research to determine whether nurse practitioners and other medical staff in primary care settings should add a mental health screening to well visits for teen patients.1

Dihigo concluded that a simple paper test, called the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC) is a reliable and quick way of determining whether or not the practitioner should refer a teen for mental health support.1

“Getting teens treatment when they need it is essential and has potentially life-saving benefits,” said Dihigo. “Providing this test while a family waits for their appointment can overcome hesitation to talk about the feelings and behaviors linked to depression and lead to treatment success.”1

According to experts, it is estimated that nationally, five to 20 percent of teens suffer from depression, but many do not receive the treatment they need.1 As a result, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and the American Academy of Pediatrics have promoted screening for mental health problems in primary care.1 The test instrument, CES-DC, is free and does not require extra training for those who administer it.1 It contains 20 questions about how much children and teens experience sleeplessness or unhappiness in the past week.1

“Dr. Dihigo’s systematic review of available evidence has identified a low-cost, simple assessment that she can confidently recommend because she has used it in her clinical practice,” said Jennifer Gray, PhD, interim dean of the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing. “In combining research and practice, she is doing what we all aspire to do—make a difference in the lives of patients.”1



[1] Nauert, R. (2014). Quick Test Can ID Depressed Teens. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 15, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/05/12/quick-test-can-id-depressed-teens/69732.html

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