- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 24, 2017

Google entered the realm of public health awareness to help people determine if they are clinically depressed, launching a questionnaire on Thursday in response to the query: Am I depressed?

People who type in a search term related to depression will now be given the option to take the PHQ-9 questionnaire, a clinically validated assessment, in addition to the most relevant information pertaining to depression.

“Clinical depression is a very common condition – in fact, approximately one in five Americans experience an episode in their lifetime,” Mary Gilbert, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness wrote in a statement.

“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.”

The goal of providing the questionnaire is to offer people a safe place to assess if they feel their symptoms warrant professional attention, and provide them the tools to access care, Ms Gilbert continued.

“By tapping “Check if you’re clinically depressed,” you can take this private self-assessment to help determine your level of depression and the need for an in-person evaluation. The results of the PHQ-9 can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite that depression is one of the leading causes of disease or injury for both men and women world wide.

Symptoms of depression include, among others, feelings of sadness, hopelessness and loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities. More severe forms of depression can manifest in physical symptoms, loss of appetite, insomnia, fatigue and can lead to thoughts of suicide or death.

Approved treatments include consultation with a mental health professional and possible prescription of a medication regimen.

Ms. Gilbert further said that statistics show that even if a person recognizes their symptoms as depression, it takes an average of six to eight years before they seek help.

“We hope that by making this information available on Google, more people will become aware of depression and seek treatment to recover and improve their quality of life,” she said.

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