Depression Screenings in Back-to-School Physicals | Loyola Medicine
Thursday, August 9, 2018

Depression Screenings for Adolescents Included in Back-to-School Physicals at Loyola Medicine

Young teenager looking out the window
MAYWOOD, IL – With 20 percent of adolescents having experienced a depressive episode by the age of 18, Loyola Medicine pediatricians and primary care physicians will now screen patients ages 12-18 for depression during back-to-school physicals and routine office visits.
More than 40 percent of adolescents with depression are not diagnosed before adulthood and it is now more common in patients of that age group than asthma and diabetes. With adolescents averaging two doctor's office visits per year, the goal at Loyola Medicine is to reach these patients earlier.  
Parents will not have to request a screening as it will be an automatic part of the visit.
"Left untreated, depression can lead to many health conditions and social problems, including underachievement in school, increased risk of anxiety and eating disorders, and problems with family and peer relationships," said Garry Sigman, MD, FAAP, director of adolescent medicine at Loyola's department of pediatrics. "It's important to understand that depression is a treatable disease."
The decision to incorporate depression screenings followed new guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Taskforce.
As part of the screening, which helps identify patients who may need further assessment, the Patient Health Questionnaire (PQ-9) asks patients the frequency over the last two weeks that they have experienced changes in:
  • Behavior or mood
  • Sleep patterns
  • Concentration
  • Appetite
The questionnaire also asks the patient about whether they have had thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
After completing the questionnaire, patients are scored on each individual question while an overall scaled score determines whether further assessment is needed and if possible intervention is required. 
Although parents do not need to request a screening, Dr. Sigman said they should look for the following signs and symptoms:
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Irritability
  • Self-criticism
  • Low self-esteem
  • Frequent aches and pains
  • Tearfulness and crying 
"At Loyola, we are committed to being a partner with families in the diagnosis and treatment of depression in adolescents," Dr. Sigman said. "These visits and screenings can be instrumental in getting adolescents the care they need."

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.