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The Importance of Screening for Depression

The Importance of Screening for Depression

Depression affects millions of Americans, taking a toll on their emotional health and their physical wellness, too. The good news: Safe, effective treatment is available, but first, you must be diagnosed. That’s where depression screening comes in.

At Harbor Community Health Centers, our team offers comprehensive behavioral health services, including depression screening, to help patients get the care they need to feel better and lead happier, healthier lives. To mark Mental Health Awareness Month, our team is dedicating this post to helping patients understand the importance of depression screening — what it is, how it works, and how it can help our patients find a meaningful solution for their symptoms.

The critical importance of depression screening

Depression isn’t just “feeling down.” Clinical depression involves severe feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and guilt that can last for years or even for a lifetime. 

Depression affects your emotional wellness, your thoughts and behaviors, and your physical health as well. Many people with depression have a variety of symptoms that they may not associate with the typical idea of depression, including:

Depression can lower your body’s natural immunity, meaning you’re more prone to other illnesses. It can even change the structure and function of your brain.

Whether as part of a regular physical exam or performed separately to assess existing signs of depression, depression screening is essential for your emotional and physical health. In fact, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends depression screening for adults and adolescents from 12-18, as well as pregnant women. 

How depression screening works

There is no medical test that can diagnose depression. Instead, depression screening includes a series of questions to assess your mood, thoughts, behaviors, or habits, like your sleep patterns, energy levels, or ability to focus and concentrate. 

Questions also ask about your use of alcohol and drugs, as well as your family history of mental health issues. Screening doesn’t take long, but it’s extremely important to take the time to answer all questions honestly and thoroughly.

Depression screening helps identify symptoms early, including subtle symptoms that can be easy to overlook. It’s also important for determining and managing treatment and even for monitoring how well your treatment is progressing.

We may also perform a physical exam, often including lab work like blood testing to rule out other conditions that could cause similar symptoms, like thyroid disease. We’ll ask about any concerns you have, including changes in your mood and whether you have thoughts of low self-worth or self-harm.

At the end of your screening, our team will recommend therapy based on your results and your needs. Most people benefit from a combination of medication and psychotherapy to help improve their moods, their health, and their quality of life. If these options fail to provide relief, we can recommend innovative therapies that help manage treatment-resistant depression.

Don’t ignore depression symptoms

Depression can make you feel frustrated, deeply sad, and hopeless, but fortunately, there are therapies that can help. Better still, the sooner you begin treatment, the sooner you can start feeling better.

If you’ve been experiencing depression or if you’d like to be screened for depression, we can help. To learn more, call 310-547-0202 to schedule an appointment with the Harbor Community Health Centers team at one of our two locations in San Pedro, California, today.

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