A new assessment feature has been added to the popular search engine Google which will allow users in the United States suffering from depression to check whether they actually suffer from this problem.
The feature, launched for users in the US, will provide an option to take a clinically validated screening questionnaire called PHQ-9 when a person Googles the word “depression”.
They will also see a box atop the results on the mobile, which Google calls a Knowledge Panel. The box contains information on what depression is, what its symptoms are, and possible treatments.
The self-assessment is private and is meant to help encourage people who might be depressed to seek medical help.
The new feature “is not meant to subvert a medical evaluation. It is meant to steer you to one if you appear depressed,” Google spokesperson Susan Cadrecha told ‘The Verge’.
“The results of the PHQ-9 can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which partnered with Google on the questionnaire.
Depression is a common illness worldwide, that affects more than 300 million people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
More women are affected by depression than men. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.