Group advises testing teens for depression
Doctor’s-office exams can prompt early treatment
By Lindsey Tanner
Recently passed federal mental-health equity legislation mandates equal coverage for mental and physical ailments in insurance plans offering both.
CHICAGO — An influential, government-appointed medical panel is urging doctors to routinely screen all U.S. teens for depression — a bold step that acknowledges that nearly 2 million teens are affected by the condition. Most are undiagnosed and untreated, said the panel, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which sets guidelines for doctors on a host of health issues.
The task force recommendations appear in April’s issue of the journal Pediatrics. And they go farther than the American Academy of Pediatrics’ own guidance for teen-depression screening.
An estimated 6 percent of U.S. teenagers are clinically depressed. Evidence shows that detailed but simple questionnaires can accurately diagnose depression in primary-care settings such as a pediatrician’s office.
The task force said that when followed by treatment, including psychotherapy, screening can help improve symptoms and help kids cope. Because depression can lead to persistent sadness, social isolation, school problems and even suicide, screening to treat it early is crucial, the panel said.
The task force’s new guidance goes beyond the pediatrics academy, which advises pediatricians to ask teen patients questions about depression. Other doctor groups advise screening only high-risk youngsters.
Because depression is so common, “you will miss a lot if you only screen high-risk groups,” said Dr. Ned Calonge, task force chairman and chief medical officer for Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment.
The group cited two questionnaires that focus on depression tip-offs, such as mood, anxiety, appetite and substance abuse.
Calonge stressed that the panel does not want its advice to lead to drug treatment alone, particularly antidepressants that have been linked with increased risks for suicidal thoughts. Routine depression testing should only occur if psychotherapy is also readily available, the panel said. Calonge said screening once yearly likely would be enough. Recently passed federal mental-heaalth equity legislation mandates equal coverage for mental and physical ailments in insurance plans offering both.
Inappropriate Drug Prescriptions are wasting millions
and Raising Health Risks
Prescription drugs that might cost as much as $20 to $25 a day are being widely used to treat problems for which they are not FDA-approved. Some of those problems could have been addressed with generic medications costing $1 a day, with better results and less risk of serious side effects.
This is a reflection of the widespread use of medications for “off-label” uses that have not been carefully considered or approved by the FDA, according to the study, some of which are raising medical costs and reducing the effectiveness of health care.
|Dr. Mercola’s Comments:|
In fact, out of the 830 Oregon Medicaid patients given the drugs, most were suffering from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and even insomnia. These are all issues that can be handled using safe, non-drug methods, yet these people were instead given expensive and dangerous antipsychotic drugs.
Imagine visiting your doctor because you have anxiety or insomnia, then being prescribed a drug that can cause potentially even worse conditions, such as:
Off-Label Drug Use is Common
This happens not only with antipsychotic medications but many other drug classes as well, and to all age groups of patients. One study even found that when a “suitable alternative” did not exist, doctors gave off-label medicine to 90 percent of babies in neonatal intensive care units and 70 percent of children in pediatric intensive care units.
Worse still, children taking these medicines face a higher risk of side effects, with one estimate suggesting they suffer up to three times more side effects as a result.
Children are also often at the receiving end of these dangerous antipsychotic drugs, and they’re not being given to children for life-threatening conditions or to treat acute emergencies … they’re being prescribed for behavioral problems such as attention deficit disorder.
There is also the issue of cost. As the study above pointed out, patients are being given drugs for unapproved uses that cost $25 or more a day, when a similar generic drug that costs just $1 a day could have been prescribed instead.
While in most cases you’re better off skipping the drugs altogether (and instead opting for natural treatment methods, which I’ll get to below), if you DO decide to take a drug, there’s absolutely no point in using an exorbitantly more expensive, more dangerous and unapproved version.
So why does this keep happening?
Most would agree that it appears the drug companies will stop at nothing to sell their products; after all, billions of dollars are at stake. They are out to make a profit so enticing doctors to prescribe their drugs for as many uses as possible, regardless of whether or not they have scientific evidence to back them up, will only allow them to sell more drugs and make more profits.
Unfortunately, their gains are at your expense.
What Can You do Instead of Taking Drugs?
And most drugs are merely just patchwork, meant to make things “okay” temporarily as your underlying structure continues to degrade, and is subjected to side effects.
What can you do instead? A truly healthy diet and emotional wellness management are what’s needed to build and solidify your health so you can avoid all the cracks (the symptoms) that drugs patch over in the first place.
Along those lines, I’ve developed 10 basic tenets of optimal health; truths that have survived the tests of time and will push your body in the direction of healing, with no drugs needed:
2. Drink plenty of clean water
3. Manage your stress
5. Get appropriate sun exposure
6. Limit toxin exposure
7. Consume healthy fat, including animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil
8. Eat plenty of raw food
9. Optimize insulin and leptin levels
10. Get plenty of sleep