In order to better understand your symptoms, you may have come across a “depression “quiz” or “test” online. Such assessments are often multiple-choice questionnaires that ask you about various symptoms of depression and their severity or frequency over a specific period of time.
Although such tests can be useful for people to gain awareness of their symptom severity, they can be misleading or unhelpful, depending on how they are used. A common and readily available assessment for depression is the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9).
Although a full discussion of the psychometric properties and clinical implications of the PHQ-9 are beyond the scope of this blog, here we attempt to provide some baseline information to inform you on how mental health professionals use this tool in practice and the general benefits and pitfalls of such assessment tools.
What is the PHQ-9?
When providing evidence-based care, it is common to ask clients to fill out various questionnaires to assess existing symptoms and to track changes in symptoms over time.
The PHQ-9 is a commonly used questionnaire that allows clinicians to quickly and objectively compare their client’s symptoms to a larger sample of individuals with similar concerns. Results from the PHQ-9 can tell us whether symptoms are mild, moderate, moderately severe, or severe.
There are many great attributes about the PHQ-9 that make it popular and widely disseminated. However, it is important to know that the PHQ-9 alone cannot be the basis for any diagnosis.
Licensed mental health professionals integrate the results of assessments like the PHQ-9 with other important information, including the results of a comprehensive clinical interview and the review of other available records, in order to make a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
What do I do after I take a depression quiz?
Following a self-administered “depression quiz,” it is important to know that whatever the outcome, a diagnosis can only be made after a comprehensive assessment with a trained mental health professional.
While online quizzes can be helpful to get an initial understanding of your own symptoms, it cannot replace the other information and clinical expertise needed to truly assess for any mental health disorder.
Regardless of the outcomes of such “tests” or “quizzes,” if you are experiencing depression or anxiety for an extended period, notably more than two weeks, I would highly encourage you to reach out to a licensed mental health professional for additional information and support.
If you would like to access care and want more information about our anxiety and depression services at Coronado Psych, please contact us at 619-554-0120, firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to schedule an initial consultation.
Please see below for more information about the psychometric properties of the PHQ-9: