The UK NSC recommendation on Screening for Depression in adults

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed June 2015
Next review due in 2018/19
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The UK NSC does not recommend a population screening programme for Depression.

National clinical guidance is available to inform practice in high risk groups and subsets of the population.


Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

Screening is not recommended because: -

  • The questionnaire-based tests used to identify people who are at risk of depression are not reliable when used in the general population. Many people would be falsely identified as having depression.
  • Although screening would detect people who are at risk of developing depression, there is no clear evidence that treatment would prevent people with mild depression going on to develop severe depression.

More about Depression

Depression is a serious illness. Health professionals use the terms depression, depressive illness or clinical depression to refer to something very different from the common experience of feeling miserable or fed-up for a short period of time. When you’re depressed, you may have feelings of extreme sadness that can last for a long time. These feelings are severe enough to interfere with your daily life, and can last for weeks or months, rather than days.

» Read more about depression on NHS Choices

» See also the UK NSC policy on Postnatal depression


The British Psychological Society
Depression Alliance
Faculty of Public Health
National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Nursing
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Psychiatrists

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

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