Feeling depressed? Ask Google

Feeling depressed? Ask Google

Using its smart analytics, Google is trying to help people who repeatedly search for “depression” or “clinical depression” on mobile phones in an attempt to find answers to what they feel. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and considering that a record number of people live with clinical depression, this new initiative, in collaboration with the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), is seen as an effective step in the right direction. It would help those having apprehension about low moods being more than a case of passing blues arrive at a definitive conclusion.

Mary Giliberti, chief executive officer of NAMI, while introducing the patient health questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), a clinically validated screening tool to test the level of depression, mentions the reasons behind the Alliance’s teaming up with Google. According to her, “Clinical depression is a very common condition—in fact, approximately one in five Americans experience an episode in their lifetime. However, despite its prevalence, only about 50 percent of people who suffer from depression actually receive treatment. To help raise awareness of this condition, we’ve teamed up with Google to help provide more direct access to tools and information to people who may be suffering.”

PHQ-9 first step to diagnosis

Taking the PHQ-9 screening test is relatively simple. The person only needs to search for keywords like depression or clinical depression in the search bar. Below the search results, a message will pop up asking users to ‘Check if you are clinically depressed’. The five-minute questionnaire will start as soon as the user clicks the message and ‘Get started’ button. The scores ranging from 0 to 27 provide an estimate of how depressed a person is.

The PHQ-9 screening test can be taken as the initial step for recognizing symptoms of the disorder. The online screening tool is an instant help resource that also provides information about the next steps. However, clinical diagnosis by a trained psychiatrist who evaluates all the possibilities (depression can be a disorder in itself, or it can be sign of other physical and psychological ailments) is necessary before one takes remedial measures.

The Knowledge panel throws questions such as “Little interest or pleasure in doing things,” followed by four options:

  • Not at all
  • Several days
  • More than half the days
  • Nearly every day

A back-end algorithm allocates marks to each answer and the sum is then aggregated to estimate the risk of a user afflicted with depression.

Though it is a great start in reaching out to millions of people worldwide, there are certain limitations to its efficacy. The feature is available only on mobile phones and tablets, and the questionnaire is currently developed only for adults. For those looking up information on their computers need to refer to other sources of knowledge.

While Google aims to maintain the privacy of those who take the test and share their details, it helps them to gain knowledge and improve their quality of life by encouraging them to seek treatment.

Timely treatment key to recovery

An untreated depressive condition adversely impacts an individual’s ability to lead a productive life, both at the personal and professional level. The condition can become so severe that a person may think of committing suicide. Persistent negative emotions and thoughts should not be ignored and treatment must be sought at the earliest.

The Arizona Depression Helpline is a vital resource for information on evidence-based treatment programs administered in trusted depression rehabs in Arizona. Call at our 24/7 helpline 866-233-3895 or chat online with a representative to know more about effective depression treatment programs in Arizona.