Has your doctor ever asked if you've experienced symptoms of depression? Screening can help identify and treat depression early, improving your overall health.
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Major depression is the most common mental health disorder according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Like many mental health illnesses, however, it is one of the least likely health concerns to be discussed among family, friends, and even caregivers.
McFarland Clinic providers conduct routine depression screenings in their offices to recognize early signs of mood disorders that could justify further evaluation. Depression screening uses subjective answers to give a provider insight into a person’s mental health and determine the risk of having depression.
For some individuals, major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with or limit one’s ability to carry out major life activities. Depression screening can be a first step toward understanding symptoms and improving a person’s quality of life.
Sarah Hayes, MD, McFarland Clinic Adult Medicine, shares how depression screenings in her practice have had a positive impact in patient care.
"More than once we have discovered an individual struggling with depression symptoms," says Dr. Hayes. "Some people who are struggling are good at hiding their symptoms. If we don’t ask, they won’t share."
Depression screenings inquire about how often a person has had problems in the following areas:
Statistics across the country show a rise in mental health concerns. According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), more than half of Americans report that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health. One in 20 US adults experience serious mental illness each year. One in six US youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
Now more than ever, the consistency of conducting a depression screening is important.
"More people are feeling isolated from the pandemic and having a hard time getting back into society," Dr. Hayes notes. "Self-care and reaching out to someone to ask how they are doing are also important steps to take."
Talking about mental health can be awkward, but it can help save lives. Dr. Hayes encourages people to “Embrace the Awkward.” She says it's important to start conversations about mental health to support friends or even to get help for ourselves.
These conversation starters can be helpful in knowing what to say to someone about mental health and depression.