Living with a chronic disease like diabetes can be challenging. That challenge can take its toll on a person, especially if that person is a child.
A recent study found that screening diabetic teens for depression was effective and helpful for treatment.
The researchers were able to identify teens who had greater symptoms of depression.
These teens also showed other concerns in managing their type 1 diabetes.
The researchers concluded that screening children with chronic diseases for depression can be beneficial for care and treatment of those children.
The study, led by Sarah Corathers, MD, of the Division of Endocrinology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, aimed to find out whether routinely screening teens with type 1 diabetes for depression was effective.
The authors examined 509 teenagers, aged 13 to 17, who had type 1 diabetes and were screened for depression at least once during the first year of the study.
Over more than 1,200 meetings between teens and their doctors, the depression screening process was fine-tuned.
The researchers surveyed both the teens and the medical staff regarding the use of the screenings and found both were comfortable with the screening instrument.
The particular screening instrument used was an electronic version of a mini-quiz called the Children's Depression Inventory.
About 8 percent of the teens had a depression screening score of 16 or higher, which indicated symptoms of depression.
In addition, 12 percent of the teens scored between 10 and 15, which is considered a moderate range of depression symptoms (possible depression or at risk).
The other 80 percent of the teens had low scores on the screening assessment.
Also, 7 percent of the teens reported having thoughts of suicide.
The researchers then compared the teens' scores on the depression screening to their management of their diabetes.
The results showed that higher depression scores were linked to lower rates of monitoring their blood sugar in the teens.
There were also higher levels of hemoglobin A1c in the teens who had higher depression scores, "...confirming the link between more depression symptoms and poorer diabetes management and control," the researchers wrote.
The researchers therefore concluded that the use of regular screening for depression among teens with type 1 diabetes was reliable and effective.
The screening also revealed valuable information about the teens' management of their condition.
"A systematic approach, such as described in this study, can serve as a model for other chronic health conditions," the researchers wrote.
The study was published October 14 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded internally.
One author has consulted for Fortis Spectrum Medical Education Group regarding working with teens with type 1 diabetes. The other authors had no possible conflicts of interest.