Does EVERYONE Need a Depression Screening? Some Say Yes

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By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – There are basic kinds of tests to expect during a visit to a primary care physician. In the future, however, visits to the doctor might include one more standard test: screening for depression. In a January 2016 report, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which advises the federal government on health, recommended that primary care physicians screen all adults for depression, USA Today said. The report went on to cite the benefits of depression screening for several specific groups, including older adults, pregnant women and new mothers.

The Task Force, whose report assessed the role that antidepressant medications and cognitive behavioral therapy can play in treating depression, made its recommendation during a period of heightened awareness about its risks. More than 41,000 Americans commit suicide every year, with 90 percent of them related to mental illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although doctors aren’t obligated to follow the Task Force’s advice, other groups, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, have made similar recommendations, according to USA Today.

“Screening for depression and other forms of mental illness is an important first step in helping people recognize the disease and start the journey to healing,” said George Carpenter, president and CEO of Mission Viejo, CA-based MYnd Analytics, Inc. “With new methods of treating depression, coupled with the fact that federal law now requires that private insurers cover mental health and physical conditions equally, we hope to see many people who have been suffering for years now on the road to recovery. Physicians and patients alike would like to see the typical ‘trial and error’ of mental health prescribing eliminated in favor of a more personalized approach.”

In an effort to find a customized solution for those affected by depression, MYnd Analytics has developed a new tool: its PEER Online platform. Short for “Psychiatric EEG Evaluation Registry”, PEER works as follows. First, a doctor gives a patient an EEG test to measure the patient’s brain patterns. These data are analyzed and then compared with MYnd Analytics’ proprietary PEER database. This database contains more than 38,000 clinical endpoints from more than 10,000 patients who were also given EEGs and who responded to specific medications for their mental health—some positively, some negatively.

By looking for the closest match between the patient’s EEG and those EEGs already in the database, the doctor can review these “crowdsourced” results, which can help guide the selection of a regimen that is statistically most likely to help his patient and avoid those treatments that are less likely to help—or maybe choose none at all (as has sometimes been the case). This may help reduce the number of prescribed medications that ultimately end up in the toilet or at the back of the medicine cabinet because patients don’t find them helpful. More than 100 studies to date have demonstrated the correlation between EEGs and medication response.

Given the importance of diagnosing depression and other forms of mental illness—and following up a diagnosis with the proper treatment—the type of technology being developed by MYnd Analytics might one day play a major part in giving doctors the tools they need to help their patients.

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