With growing concern about mental health issues and suicide among adolescents, more schools and communities are using voluntary screening programs to identify at-risk kids, today’s Informed Patient column reports.The programs rely on free questionnaires that have been shown to be reliable indicators of depression in adolescents including the Columbia University-developed TeenScreen and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9. But mental-health screenings are opposed by certain groups and legislation has been introduced to prevent their mandatory use. Some mental health advocates say large-scale screening programs are not as cost-effective as relying on teachers, school health officials, primary-care doctors and parents to identify and intervene with troubled teens.
“I am the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be a cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better I cannot tell; I awfully forbode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better.” – Abraham Lincoln
Depression falls into two major categories; unipolar depression and bipolar disorder (previously known as “manic depression.”) The first is characterized by a persistent low mood, and the second is characterized by extremes in both low and high moods.
Major Depression Symptoms
If five or more of the following symptoms have been present in either you or someone you know for more than two weeks*, please talk to your doctor about the possibility of depression being present. Keep in mind that these symptoms could indicate a medical condition other than depression.
- Feelings of sadness and/or irritability
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities normally enjoyed
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Changes in sleeping pattern
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions
- Constant fatigue or loss of energy
- Observable restlessness or decreased activity
- Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death
In addition, look for at least three of the following symptoms, which could indicate the manic phase of manic-depression:
- Inflated ego, envisioning of grand schemes
- Increased energy and decreased need for sleep
- Inappropriate excitement or irritability
- Increased talking and/or moving
- Sexual promiscuity
- Disconnected and racing thoughts
- Impulsive behavior and poor judgment
For a more detailed screening for bipolar disorder, look at the Goldberg Mania Quiz.
Other self-screening tests are at:
If you’re still not sure, look at What Does Depression Feel Like?.