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Google’s online depression test is also known as the PHQ-9 test and can be accessed in the Google search app on Android or iOS by typing ‘clinical depression.’ Photo: iStock
Google’s online depression test is also known as the PHQ-9 test and can be accessed in the Google search app on Android or iOS by typing ‘clinical depression.’ Photo: iStock

How Google search apps can help users identify depression

If you have been feeling depressed but have been too busy or scared to find out, you can try this simple test on your smartphone

Google Search is used by people for all sorts of queries, including health. But the results are often too complex. To simplify things and deliver basic information on the search page itself, Google came up with a Knowledge panel for all health related queries. It uses visual and text.

Now Google is adding an online test based on in the Knowledge panel for queries related to clinical depression. The objective is to help people who are depressed but are not sure if it is serious enough to seek help.

The online test is also known as the PHQ-9 test and can be accessed in the Google search app on Android or iOS by typing “clinical depression."

Developed by American drug company Pfizer Inc, PHQ-9 (patient health questionnaire) is a clinically validated screening questionnaire designed to help users identify the level of depression they are suffering from.

It is basically a score based test with a series of 9 questions such as “Little interest or pleasure in doing things?" or “Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?".

For every question there are four options to choose from — several days, nearly every day, more than half the days and not at all. Every answer carries a score — 0 for “not at all" and 3 for “nearly every day." The sum total helps users identify if they are depressed or not. The answers remain private and are not saved or shared with anyone.

The need for making the test available on Google Search stems from the fact that only 50% of people suffering from clinical depression actually get help, according to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), the US based agency, which has been assisting people with mental illness and depression for years. Adding the option to take PHQ-9 in search page will create more awareness about this simple yet effective and medically approved test among people.

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