Depression Screening Saves Lives

By Lacey Sheppard, LCSW, Summit Medical Group Oregon

Depression is a chronic mental health condition that impacts the quality of one’s life and that of those around them. People who experience depression are more likely to have difficulty with medication adherence, experience co-morbidities, and have impairment in overall functioning. Depression can be one of the most painful health concerns someone can experience. Research indicates that many people have undiagnosed depression that may be contributing to other chronic health conditions. In a 2015-2016, 16 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds surveyed in Oregon indicated they had at least one major depressive episode during the 12 months prior.

Annual depression screening is considered as important as an annual physical and can help identify patients who need mental health care. Depression is often experienced as significant impairment in feelings of pleasure or joy, a sense of feeling withdrawn, loss of appetite, changes in sleep, impact on body movement, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, trouble with concentration and sometimes recurrent thoughts of suicide and self-harm.  Often depression impacts one’s ability to conduct life with ease at school, work, home, and in relationships.

Depression screening by a clinical health team fosters an opportunity for assessment and intervention which can dramatically improve one’s sense of hope. There are many causes of depression, and it is critically important to assess its root once it is identified. Trained clinicians, known as behavioral health specialists, have the skillset and training to assess and treat depression with a number of modalities. Depression treatment may include a combination of behavioral health therapy, lifestyle change, and medication.

Depression screening saves lives. Some individuals who experience severe depression may have thoughts of not wanting to live anymore.  “In my experience when people are screened appropriately and receive a timely effective intervention, it leads to symptom reduction,” says Lacey Sheppard, LCSW, Summit Medical Group Oregon.

Oregon’s suicide rate has been higher than the national average for the past three decades. In 2015, 762 Oregon residents died by suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Oregonians aged 15 to 34 years of age, and the 8th leading cause of death among all ages in Oregon. In addition, more than 2,000 hospitalizations are due to self-harm or suicide attempts in Oregon each year.

Zero suicide is an Oregon State initiative that recommends depression screening for all patients once a year, and for those with depression at each visit. The goal is to provide an opportunity for the patient and the clinician to have a meaningful conversation that fosters truth and hope for appropriate treatment. “The immense amount of emotional pain associated with depression should be addressed by a health care provider right away,” states Ms. Sheppard “The sooner a patient with suicidal ideation can be screened, assessed, and helped, the better the outcomes.”

When depression is identified, patients and health care providers can partner to create individualized treatment plans tailored to personal values and needs. Consistent depression screening can have a positive life altering impact on our patient population.


Resources for Patients

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
  • National Suicide Prevention Resource Center:
  • DCBH 24 Hour Crisis Line: 1-800-875-7364.
  • Oregon Youth Line: 877-968-8491 / text – teen2teen to 839863
  • Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance COSPA:


Works Cited


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