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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Google has created a tool that tests for clinical depression

Katherine Ellen Foley
Originally posted August 24, 2017

People often delay seeking treatment for mental health conditions like depression. The longer they wait to see their doctors, the worse the condition becomes, making it harder to treat in the future.

In an effort to encourage more patients to seek treatment sooner, Google announced Aug. 23 that it has teamed up with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an advocacy group, to create a simple tool for users to assess if they may be depressed. Now, when people in the US search for “clinical depression” on their phones, the typical “knowledge panel”—a container that displays company-vetted information on Google’s search results page—will come with an option to take a quiz that can assess the severity of symptoms. (Google says the quiz results will not be seen by anyone but the quiz-taker.)

Google’s quiz isn’t new. It’s a reskinned version of the 18-year-old PQH-9 (pdf), used by physicians to help diagnose patients with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. It asks about general interest in activities, eating and sleeping habits, and overall mood. Alone, the PQH-9 won’t give a definitive diagnosis. Doctors use it in conjunction with physical exams to rule out other causes for patients’ symptoms, like a thyroid problem. Google says its incorporation of the PQH-9 test in its search results is not meant as a final diagnosis, but as a tool to inspire people to have conversations with their healthcare providers if they were hesitant before.

The article is here.