Common Screening Tools for Depression in Kids May Lead to Misdiagnosis

A recent article by News Medical discussed how common screen tools for depression in kids may be leading to doctors misdiagnosing youth. The article highlights on how doctors are being encouraged to try to identify depression in kids, even if they do not have obvious indications of the mental illness. To do so, physicians often use screen tools such as short questionnaires that ask about symptoms of depression.

According to recent research, there is sufficient evidence that shows that these questionnaires do not accurately screen 6 to 18-year-olds for depression in kids. The research calls into question the possibility of doctors misdiagnosing youth.

The senior author on the study, Brett Thombs, states:

“Our study shows that if depression screening were carried out using existing screening tools, many non-depressed children and adolescents would be mistakenly identified as depressed.”

Recent Research on Depression in Kids

In order to assess the quality of the screening tools that are currently being used to identify depression in kids, the researchers carried out an exhaustive search of the medical evidence looking for studies that put the screening tools to the test. They were able to identify 17 studies where the test results from the screening tools were compared with results from a diagnostic interview to determine if depression in kids was present.

Researchers found that there was not a single tool with even moderate evidence to effectively identify depression in kids without also incorrectly picking up many non-depressed children and adolescents.

Depression screening for children and adolescents is controversial. Depression in kids is a disabling condition associated with behavioral problems associated with poor school performance. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recently recommended routine screening of adolescents between 13 to 18, as a part of regular medical care.

Researchers believe that with the inaccuracy of the tools currently being used, the misdiagnosis of youth could lead to negative effects on kid’s health. Parents should be aware of the accurate ways to identify depression in kids.
If you are concerned about whether your child is suffering with depression, there are programs that can help.

Asheville Academy Can Help

Asheville Academy, a residential treatment center in a traditional school setting for girls 10-14, helps teen girls struggling with anxiety, depression and other emotional and behavioral issues.

If your daughter is struggling to find success, consider sending her to Asheville Academy, a therapeutic boarding school. With a caring staff and a clinically based program, Asheville Academy can help your daughter work through her struggles.

For more information about Asheville Academy, contact us today at 800.264.8709

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