Should Every Primary Care Patient Be Screened for Depression?

Depression affects about one person in five across their lifetimes. It is a significant source of disability, loss of productivity, and impaired relationships, and a major risk factor for suicide. A study from the 1990s revealed that, in the absence of routine screening, primary care providers at an HMO in Washington state missed the diagnosis in approximately 35% of patients who had depression.  

It seems common sense, doesn't it, that routine screening for depression would improve care by better diagnosis and follow-up treatment?

Actually, no. Despite more widespread practice of routine screening in primary care settings in the US in recent years, and despite subsequent increase in the use of antidepressants, the benefits have yet to show up.

Real Suicide Prevention or Self-Satisfied Nonsense?

It's Suicide Prevention Month/Week/Whatever again. Those of us who are or have been suicidal know suicide prevention as a year-round, full time job. Those of us who are or have been suicidal have a whole lot of experience at preventing suicide. Is anyone interested to hear from us? Some of the following came from an earlier post. It bears repeating, 'cuz evidently even some bright people have some strange ideas. Like:

Suicide is not a choice

The way people talk, you'd think we sit down and make a list, pros and cons of suicide. Then based on our calculations, we make some kind of decision. She chose to end her life. Or, How could he have been so selfish.

This is called the volitional theory of suicide, suicide as an act of will. The suicide prevention approach that addresses it is to weigh in on that list of pros and cons, like Jennifer Michael Hecht's book, Stay.

You know -- Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Or, Think of what you'll miss out on. Or, whatever. In other words, how dumb or short-sighted or irresponsible or selfish you must be to decide to kill yourself.

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