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Google's search results to let people check if they're clinically depressed

The Independent logo The Independent 27/08/2017 Andrew Griffin

© Provided by Independent Print Limited Google is going to start asking people if they're depressed.

Users in the US who are searching for clinical depression will now be able to take a quiz within the search results, which will suggest whether or not they have the condition.

The company hopes that people can use the questionnaire to get help more quickly and to improve their quality of life, it said.

Noting that clinical depression is incredibly common – around on in five Americans will experience it – and that people often wait for years to get help, it said that it would add a screening questionnaire that would give people more practical help if it thinks they are searching to find out whether or not they have the condition.

The clinically validated questions, known as PHQ-9, can help identify the levels of depressive symptoms a person has and will pop up just from the search result. People will be able to tap on a button that says "Check if you're clinically depressed" and then directed towards a quiz, which makes clear that the answers will be kept entire private.

"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," Google wrote in its blog post announcing the new feature.

Google already helps people find information about clinical depression, as it does with other medical conditions. It shows what it calls a "Knowledge Panel" – a curated set of information that shows details about the condition, symptoms and possible treatments.

It said that it had added those features to try and help people who are looking for health advice and tend to run into misinformation.

Both changes are part of an increasing focus from Google on offering information and results within the search results page, instead of requiring users to click on links and head to another website. That is intended to speed up the work of searching, but has occasionally led to terrible results appearing in the page.

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