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.