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Health

Can Dr Google tell you if you have depression?

Friday 25/August/2017 - 09:03 AM
Sada El Balad
Edited by: Yara Sameh

Google has developed a test to screen for clinical depression، daily mail reported.

Users who type 'depression' into the search bar will now be invited to click on a link to a quiz titled 'check if you're clinically depressed'.

The tool، designed in conjunction with a mental illness group، will not provide a definitive diagnosis. However، it is designed to give you tangible information to take to your next doctor's appointment.

More than 16 million Americans - 7 percent of the country - suffer from some form of depression، with that rate steadily climbing.

And yet، studies show it takes around six years for a person to be diagnosed with the mental illness، and only 50 percent of sufferers receive treatment.


The quiz، currently only available in the US، 'will be fully rolled out on mobile in the US over the next day or so،' according to a Google spokesman.

Once it is live، it will sit in the 'knowledge panel' for depression، which appears on the right hand side of the page when a user searches 'depression'.

The panel includes general information about the medical condition، as well as symptoms and treatment options.

Now، that section will also have a bar that invites users to carry out a clinically-validated screening questionnaire، designed to identify levels of depressive symptoms.

The platform was created in association with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

It comes amid a push from all major tech companies to detect mental illness online.

Facebook is working on artificial intelligence that can detect comments with suicidal undertones، while Instagram users are offered a support system to users if their friends report their posts.

'We believe that awareness of depression can help empower and educate you، enabling quicker access to treatment،' says Mary Giliberti، the CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The release of the quiz comes on the heels of a report that saw a spike in Google searches about suicide and how to commit suicide.

The report by San Diego University said the increase in searches seemed to come soon after the release of Netflix's show 13 Reasons Why، which told the story of a suicidal teenage girl.


There were 1.5 million more suicide-related searches than expected during the 19 days following the series' release، according to the report by public health researchers published last month.

The show، which debuted on March 31، was heavily criticized for 'glamorizing' suicide. In the final scene، the 17-year-old protagonist Hannah kills herself in a graphic scene in a bathtub.

While the show's writers insist they aimed to raise awareness about mental illness، experts warn internet searches about suicide have become more practical than informative.

The researchers say the findings should be a red flag to the movie industry to take greater steps to prevent suicide ideation، such as including hotline numbers or removing graphic scenes.

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