Simple Test May Help Identify Depressed Teenagers, Study Finds

First Posted: May 10, 2014 10:37 AM EDT

A quick and simple test might help health care practitioners identify depressed teens, a new study reveals.

Researchers at The University of Texas, Arlington, claim that a quick and simple paper test called 'CES-DC' is the most reliable way to determine whether a teenager should be referred for mental health support. The test that involves filling a mental health assessment in a clinic waiting room could benefit teens suffering from depression.

The research is based on the examination of the available data. Sharolyn Dihigo, interim director of UT Arlington's Doctor of Nursing Practice program analyzed existing data to determine whether primary health professional settings should include a mental health screening of teen patients.

After examining the data she concluded that the simple paper test can make a big difference to the depressed teens.  The CED-DC test is short for Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children. This test is free and those administering the screening do not need extra training. The test includes 20 questions on how much sleeplessness or unhappiness the teen patient experienced in the past week. 

"Getting teens treatment when they need it is essential and has potentially life-saving benefits," said Dihigo, who is also interim director of UT Arlington's Doctor of Nursing Practice program. "Providing this test while a family waits for their appointment can overcome hesitation to talk about the feelings and behaviors linked to depression and lead to treatment success."

It is estimated that nationally there are nearly 5-20 percent of adolescents who suffer from depression and do not get the required treatment.  To prove her finding, the researcher reviewed 14 studies that were done earlier.

"Dr. Dihigo's systematic review of available evidence has identified a low-cost, simple assessment that she can confidently recommend because she has used it in her clinical practice," said Jennifer Gray, interim dean of the UT Arlington College of Nursing. "In combining research and practice, she is doing what we all aspire to do-make a difference in the lives of patients."

The study appears in Women's Healthcare: A Clinical Journal for NPs.

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