Google “Am I depressed?”

Google in the US have started to add something when people search for information on depression. From now on they will direct people to an on-line depression questionnaire.

The online screening tool is being provided in partnership with an American charity, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). If it’s successful the idea will be extended by Google to the UK as well.

The questionnaire (called PHQ-9) takes about two minutes to complete and consists of nine questions. These ask about people’s experience over the last two weeks about being bothered by

  • having little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • feeling down, depressed or hopeless
  • falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • feeling tired or having little energy
  • poor appetite or overeating
  • feeling bad about yourself, or that you are a failure, or have let yourself or your family down
  • trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television
  • moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed – or the opposite – being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual
  • anxiety attacks

Your answers will give you a score from 0 to 27

  • 0 – 4 No mood disorder
  • 5 – 9 Minimal mood disorder that needs to be reviewed and help given if it becomes worse
  • 10-14 Minor depression that will need support and intervention such as talking therapy or antidepressants
  • 15-19 Moderately severe major depression that will need support and intervention such as talking therapy or antidepressants, or potentially a combination of the two
  • 20 – 27 Severe major depression that will need a combination of talking therapy and antidepressants

Until Google roll this out in the UK you can find the questionnaire on the NHS website.

The questionnaire isn’t meant to replace a consultation with your GP, and like any screening it will throw up some false positives and negatives. However in a society where

  • 1 in 5 of us will experience depression, and
  • suicide is the biggest cause of death in men aged under 50

anything that increases awareness and makes it easier to ask for help has to be a positive step.

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