The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care says routine screening for depression shouldn’t be done on adults who don’t show symptoms of the disease.
The task force makes the recommendation on the basis that there is no sound evidence showing the benefits of regular screening for depression, and because of possible harms the screening could cause.
The latest recommendations update the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care’s (CTFPHC) 2005 recommendations that said adults should be screened for depression in primary care settings.
The CTFPHC was created by the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop clinical practice guidelines to help primary care providers such as family physicians deliver preventive health care.
The organization’s latest recommendation against routine screening applies to two groups of adults: those at average risk of depression, including people over 18 who show no symptoms of depression and are not considered to be at increased risk, and those who may be at increased risk of depression, such as people with a family history of depression.
For the second group, clinicians are advised to be alert for the possibility of depression and look for signs of the disease, such as insomnia and suicidal thoughts.
The recommendations don’t apply to people who already have depression, had a history of depression, or are being treated for it.
According to a Canadian Community Health Survey released in 2002, one in eight Canadian adults suffered from major depression at some point during their lifetime, and one in twenty aged 15 or older had the disease in the past 12 months.
Among the symptoms of depression as listed by Health Canada are feelings of despair and hopelessness, detachment from life and people, feeling tired or having no energy, and crying for no apparent reason, to name a few.