discoveries magazine

Depression Safety Net

Depression can lead to poor outcomes for a slew of medical conditions, as patients who suffer from depression are less likely to take their medications and return for follow-up appointments. This, in turn, can delay recovery, lengthen hospital stays, and increase risk of readmission.

Analyzing data from 20 studies of hospital depression screenings, investigators in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Psychiatry and Department of Medicine found that 33 percent of hospitalized patients had symptoms of depression, such as hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, and changes in sleep and appetite.

Cedars-Sinai routinely evaluates all hospitalized adult patients for depression.

“When patients are admitted, we screen not only for routine health risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol, but our nurses also screen patients for depression,” says Waguih William IsHak, MD, lead author of the study and professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences.

“It’s a golden opportunity to help the patient get treatment and remove some of the behavioral barriers to getting well. Screening for depression should be standard practice in all hospitals.”