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Doctors should screen for depression, say NICE


New NICE guidance is advising doctors to screen people for depression if they are suffering from a long-term illness.

NICE said patients with illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer are two or three times more likely to be depressed compared to healthy people.

Its guidance recommends that GPs should not solely focus on patient’s physical problems, but instead ask them a series of questions to determine if they are depressed.

The move comes after research showed that symptoms can improve if people suffering severe health problems are treated for depression.

The new guidance sets out two key questions patients should be asked if a doctor suspects they may be at risk of depression.

They are: “During the last month, have you often been bothered by feeling down depressed or hopeless?” … or “Have you had little interest or pleasure in doing things?”

If the patient says yes, the doctor should refer a patient on to a specialist or, if they are trained in mental health assessment, ask a further three questions.

These will check if the patient has, in the last month, been bothered by feelings of worthlessness, poor concentration or thoughts of death.

Antidepressants should not be given routinely but should be considered for people with more severe depression alongside services such as cognitive behavioural therapy, the guidance said.


Readers' comments (2)

  • It's all very well recognising that depression is rife in long term illness, but do we have the resources to deal with it. I work in long term conditions and have a patient who needs help with depression and anxiety, he has been told he will have to wait 9 months for counselling, how can this be right? If we identify all the patients who have depression by asking them those 2 simple questions can the system cope with the the huge number of patients who will be referred onwards for futher assessment, let alone cope with the need for CBT etc.

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  • i totally agree with the above comment, but how can we get things changed if we dont actually try to prove that there is an unmet need.

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