Simple Screen May Help Spot Depression in College
THURSDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Among students who go to
university health centers for a physical ailment, between one-fifth
and one-quarter are depressed, but the condition often goes
undiagnosed because most university health centers don't screen for
depression, a new study reports.
The researchers also found that 2 to 3 percent of these
depressed students have had suicidal thoughts or are considering
"Depression screening is easy to do, we know it works, and it can save lives. It should be done for every student who walks into a health center," lead author Dr. Michael Fleming, a professor of family and community medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a university news release.
Fleming and his colleagues surveyed 1,622 students who went to
health centers at the University of Wisconsin, the University of
Washington and the University of British Columbia. The study
findings are published in the January issue of the
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.
Screening for depression is simple, Fleming said. While sitting
in the health center waiting area, students can answer seven
questions about depression that can be immediately entered into his
or her electronic health record. During the appointment, the health
care provider can address any issues about sadness or
The consequences of not identifying and treating students with
depression can be serious and even deadly.
"These kids might drop out of school because they are so sad, or hurt or kill themselves by drinking too much or taking drugs," Fleming said.
He noted that university students face many challenges, and
events such as a low grade or problems with a boyfriend or
girlfriend can trigger depression.
"If you don't take the opportunity to screen at every [health center] visit, you are going to miss these kids," Fleming said.
Mental Health America has more about
depression in college.
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