Surfing the blues -- Internet questionnaire can accurately identify depression

Apr 10, 2007

The Internet offers a valuable opportunity for the public to screen themselves for depression. This is the conclusion of a study published today in BMC Psychiatry, which demonstrates that a Chinese online tool for assessing depression is both accurate and reproducible, and may offer a way to identify the growing number of people suffering from depression.

Chao-Cheng Lin of the National Taiwan University Hospital, Yu-Chuan Li of the National Yang-Ming University, and other colleagues in Taiwan developed the Internet-based Self-assessment Program for Depression (ISP-D). Between September 2001 and January 2002 the team recruited 579 subjects via a popular mental health website. Volunteers were sent a follow-up email one to two weeks after completing the first questionnaire inviting them to re-sit the test, and those who completed the questionnaires were offered a psychiatrist’s appointment to validate the diagnosis.

Results of the first assessment showed that 31% of participants had major depressive disorder, 7% a minor depressive disorder, 15% had some symptoms of depression that did not amount to a full diagnosis of depression (subsyndromal depressive symptoms) and 46% had no depression. Analysis of the retest results show excellent reproducibility for major depressive disorder. The reproducibility was lower for minor depressive disorder, which may be because minor depression is not a stable diagnosis. The psychiatrist’s follow-up revealed that the diagnosis was correct for ¾ of those tested online.

Already between 1/5 and 2/5 of the world’s population suffer from depression, but most remain undetected or go untreated, making it vital to provide more opportunities for diagnosis.

"The ISP-D provides a continuously available, inexpensive, and easily maintained depression screening method that is accessible to a large number of individuals across a broad geographic area," write the authors. This tool allows people to reliably assess depression in themselves on their own and in a short amount of time.

Citation: Web-based tools can be used reliably to detect patients with major depressive disorder and subsyndromal depressive symptoms, Chao-Cheng Lin, Ya-Mei Bai, Chia-Yih Liu, Mei-Chun Hsiao, Jen-Yeu Chen, Shih-Jen Tsai, Wen-Chen Ouyang, Chia-hsuan Wu and Yu-Chuan Li, BMC Psychiatry 2007, 7:12 (In press)

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: Brain activity predicts promiscuity and problem drinking

Related Stories

Video: How does Adderall work?

May 11, 2015

More than 25 million people rely on Adderall and other similar drugs to help treat narcolepsy, depression and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But how does amphetamine, the active ingredient ...

Prozac treatment can help anxious dogs

May 14, 2015

Dogs who suffer with separation anxiety become more optimistic when taking the animal equivalent of Prozac during behavioural treatment, according to the results of an innovative new study.

Research shows blood cells generate neurons in crayfish

Apr 09, 2015

A new study by Barbara Beltz, the Allene Lummis Russell Professor of Neuroscience at Wellesley College, and Irene Söderhäll of Uppsala University, Sweden, published in the August 11 issue of the journal ...

Recommended for you

Decoding the statistical language of the brain

5 hours ago

Let's make a bet. You will throw a dart 10 feet and – if you hit a two-inch circular target on the wall across the room – I will give you a dollar. Otherwise, you pay me a dollar.

Health information causing new mums anxiety

5 hours ago

Pregnancy and motherhood are both wonderful and worrisome times – could public health campaigns and social stereotypes be contributing to anxiety for mothers? Researchers from Monash University have identified ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.