The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that around 16 million adults in the US have at least one major bout of depression per year, that’s almost 7 percent of the total population. Worldwide, the World Health Organisation estimates that around 350 million people are suffering from depression at any one time.
Around one in five Americans will go through depression in their lifetime, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Unfortunately, when you’re going through depression it’s hard to know if what you’re experiencing is usual, and you may not know where to turn.
For a lot of people, their first port of call is a Google search: terms such as “depression” or “am I depressed” are common.
It’s possible Google feels some responsibility, being the first stop for many people who think they may be depressed, as it has announced a new tool to help people diagnose depression. Rolling out over the next few days in the US, if you Google “depression” or “clinical depression” you will be offered a diagnostic test to see if you are depressed.
A panel will pop up that reads “check if you’re clinically depressed”. If you press it, it will lead to a clinically validated screening questionnaire to help identify your levels of depressive symptoms.
Google teamed up with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for the initiative, which they hope will encourage people to seek treatment.
“Statistics show that those who have symptoms of depression experience an average of a 6-8 year delay in getting treatment after the onset of symptoms,” chief executive officer of NAMI, Mary Giliberti, wrote in a Google guest blog post.
“We believe that awareness of depression can help empower and educate you, enabling quicker access to treatment.”
The test will only be seen if you Google depression from within the United States, and isn’t aimed at replacing a diagnosis from your doctor, but to help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor when you do. The main aim of the tool is to help raise awareness of depression and encourage people to seek treatment.
“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,” Giliberti said.