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New Google Tool Can Help Diagnose Clinical Depression

25 August 2017, 11:34 am EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
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Google bolstered its efforts to aid its users who may be suffering from depression. In cooperation with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a simple Google search may allow users to determine if they are clinically depressed.

Google's Efforts For Depressed Users

On Aug, 23, Google announced a new feature that may significantly help users of the search engine to determine just how serious their depression is. Partnering with NAMI, Google made the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), a reliable means of measuring depression severity, accessible to its users in the United States.

Upon typing the words "clinical depression," a knowledge panel with information on the disorder, its symptoms, as well as possible treatments will appear. In it, users will also have access to the new tool by clicking on "check if you're clinically depressed," which will directly bring the user to the PHQ-9 test.

The partnership between Google and NAMI is in line with the hope that by making information and testing easily accessible, more people will become aware of their depression and seek help to improve their quality of life.

PHQ-9

The PHQ-9 is a depression module that makes criteria-based diagnoses of depressive disorders. It is a reliable and valid measure of depression severity, which makes it a reliable clinical and research tool.

Basically, the PHQ-9 scored each of nine depression criteria such as "little interest or pleasure in doing things" on a scale of 0 to 3, with zero being "not at all," and three being "nearly every day." It is a 20-item self-reported general health survey.

Urgency To Address Depression

This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) named depression as the world's leading cause of disability and sickness. By February alone, over 300 million people were living with the disorder.

Between 2005 and 2015, cases of depression saw an 18 percent increase worldwide. WHO's initiative for World Health Day this year, "Depression: Let's Talk," highlighted the importance of talking about depression and seeking out for help.

Google's latest move to aid people with depression can do just that. With the stigma and prejudice surrounding the disorder, Google and NAMI's efforts in making the PHQ-9 very accessible will likely help people who are quietly suffering from depression to make concrete efforts in battling the disorder.

Mental health issues such as depression are serious disorders that require equally serious medical treatments. It affects both the sufferers themselves as well as the people around them. Movements by companies such as Google are important in opening the conversation about mental health, especially when it comes to seeking help from medical practitioners.

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