Girl Smarts Think you might be depressed? This might help

Google partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to ensure that the information from the questionnaire is both accurate and useful.

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Google is stepping in to help people suffering from clinical depression. The search engine giant is now offering immediate support to people who search for the mental health disorder.

Starting August 23, a Knowledge Panel will appear in the search results that will give people the option to select, “check if you’re clinically depressed.” Previously, when users searched for this in the U.S., the Knowledge Panel only provided people with general information like symptoms and possible treatment options.

Users who select this will now be directed to PHQ-9, a clinically validated screening questionnaire to test what their likely level of depression is. Google partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to ensure that the information from the questionnaire is both accurate and useful.

"Depression is the leading cause of workplace presenteeism and absenteeism, and so should be of concern to employers," says Ken Duckworth, Medical Director of NAMI. "Untreated depression is associated with the risk of suicide, so this is a public health concern."

According to a study on PHQ-9, the assessment looks at the nine DSM-IV criteria for clinical depression and has people score how often they feel irritability, decreased interest or pleasure, significant weight change or change in appetite, change in sleep, change in activity, fatigue or loss of energy, guilt/worthlessness, concentration issues, and suicidality.

The information is gathered from the private self-assessment, which is not a singular tool for diagnosis, but will help people determine their level of depression and their need for an in-person evaluation. As the first step to getting a proper diagnosis, the results can also help patients have a more informed conversation about their depression with their doctor.

"Many people turn to Google for information about their health, in fact one in 20 searches on Google are health-related," says Vidushi Tekriwal, Product Manager of Google. "Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."

With one in five Americans experiencing an episode of clinical depression in their life, according to NAMI, Google is hoping this initiative will raise awareness about it, while giving people suffering access to the tools they need to get through tough times.

Additionally, knowing that most people with symptoms of depression waiting an average of six to eight years before they get treatment, Google is hoping their assessment will enable people to get treatment faster.

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