Looking up "depression" on Google will now allow users in the US to check whether they are clinically depressed, thanks to a new self-assessment feature added to the popular search engine.
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.
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