Depression screenings recommended for teens

Your child could be getting another test when they go to the doctor. The US Preventative Services Taskforce is recommending that all kids between 12 and 18 get screened for depression every time they go to the doctor.

Depression is a problem that Vienna High School nurse Sherie Smith says is more common than people think.

"There’s a very high number of students that are under a lot of stress or are unable to cope with what’s going on in their daily lives,” said Smith

The problem, according to Dr. Blaine Eubanks, is that often depression in teens goes undiagnosed.

"We see depression in kids as young as 7 or 8 years,” said Eubanks. “Many of these kids don’t know how to put into words what they’re feeling. They don’t have the language that an adult might use, but their symptoms are just as real and just as serious. They absolutely need to be treated."

When teens come in for a checkup doctors can now put down the stethoscope and give their patients a written test, which asks general questions about appetite, energy, and if they’re feeling good or bad about themselves.

"It’s quick, takes a few minutes, and it opens the door to all sorts of treatment,” said Eubanks. "I consider adolescent depression screening to be just as big of a life-saving tool as surgery or medicine. We can prevent someone from depression, grief, or even suicide."

The US Preventative Services Taskforce has approved the use of prescription anti-depressants such as Prozac and Lexapro for kids as young as 11.

Eubanks says they can safely be prescribed to kids as young as 8 if needed.

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