A short, 27-item, questionnaire available free online is a valid and effective tool to help primary care doctors screen patients for four common psychiatric illnesses - depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD)
Just stressed or should you seek treatment? Check your mental health online with the M-3 Mood Monitor at www.mymoodmonitor.com
Primary Care Doctors Hold the Key
Primary care physicians hold the key to reaching more people suffering from undiagnosed psychiatric illnesses. For most people who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), their initial diagnosis is made by a primary care doctor, not by a psychiatrist. In addition, the majority of prescriptions for antidepressant medications are written by primary care physicians. For those reasons, a simple checklist that can screen for multiple disorders would be very helpful.
One in Ten with Psychiatric Illness Untreated
"About one in 10 Americans who suffer from depression and anxiety-related mental health disorders never receives treatment because they don't understand what's wrong, and when they go to their family doctor these treatable illnesses are too often missed," said Bradley Gaynes, M.D., M.P.H, lead author of the study and an associate professor of psychiatry in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. "For these millions of people and their primary care providers, the M-3 screener is a tremendously helpful resource," Gaynes said.
Results Recently Published
Results of the My Mood Monitor (M-3) checklist study are published in the March/April 2010 issue of Annals of Family Medicine. The checklist was developed by M-3 Information of Bethesda, Md., and is available at www.mymoodmonitor.com.
To evaluate the M-3 checklist, Gaynes and study co-authors enrolled 647 adults age 18 or older who sought care at the UNC Family Medicine Center between July 2007 and February 2008. Each participant filled out a paper version of the checklist while waiting to see their doctor. Each participant's completed checklist was then given to their doctor, and the doctors used the checklist to discuss emotional health with their patients.
83% Effective in Screening Anxiety disorder
Researchers later interviewed each person who filled out the checklist, within 30 days of their doctor visit, and assigned final diagnoses after reviewing each interview with Gaynes. These diagnoses were then compared to the answers each participant gave on their checklists. The results showed that the M-3 was effective in screening for any mood or anxiety disorder 83 percent of the time and for a specific disorder in 76 percent of cases.
Self-Testing to be Studied
Gaynes said the research team is currently designing a second study to measure the effectiveness of the M-3 checklist when used by individuals to monitor their mental health status over time. The company has developed a mobile phone version of the checklist that will be released late this year.