A positive screening test for anxiety and depression in a young person needs confirmation, Elizabeth Tracey reports


If a young person is thought to have depression following a positive screening test, as is now recommended by a federal task force, one danger may be that they begin treatment without more carefully and thoroughly confirming the condition. That’s according to Karen Swartz, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins.

Swartz: The screens often will identify someone is maybe having it, but when they’re carefully examined they don’t. and so what I don’t want is a whole group of young people screened, not properly examined, and then started on treatment which they don’t need. What I don’t want is someone who right now is disappointed or distressed, they’ve had a bad breakup, they’re doing poorly in school, and then they take an antidepressant because someone has told them they screen for depression, it does no good because they don’t have depression, and then maybe later in their life, when they are facing a real depression that they say that doesn’t work, treatment doesn’t work.  :35

Confirmation is key, Swartz says. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.