The test: Usually a questionnaire, possibly even a simple two-part question asking whether, in the last two weeks, a person has "felt down, depressed or hopeless" or "felt little interest or pleasure in doing things."
The guidelines: The experts recommend primary care doctors screen adults for depression — but only if those doctors have trained staff available to ensure appropriate follow-up and referrals for treatment. Many do not.
What to consider: Depression is common, treatable and often overlooked because it is incorrectly viewed as a normal part of aging or the inevitable result of having another chronic illness. But the data the task force examined in making its recommendation seemed to suggest that screening itself isn't the critical piece—it's the quality of follow-up care that matters, says Mark Snowden, M.D., medical director of geriatric psychiatry at the University of Washington at Harborview Medical Center.
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