Can depression be recognized early on using four simple questions?
A team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Educational Research in Berlin has developed a rapid test for depression that is intended to make it easier for general practitioners to recognize them. So far, people with depression have often been subjected to considerable suffering for a long time before the correct diagnosis is made. The decision tree now presented is intended to enable detection of depressive moods based on a few simple yes-no questions.
The list of questions in the decision tree, which was initially specially tailored to women, is based on Beck's depression inventory, which is common in psychology and "often used to diagnose depressive moods," with a total of 21 criteria, reports the Max Planck Institute for Educational Research. The research team of the department "Adaptive Rationality" developed a "new approach to diagnosing depression more quickly" based on the "assumption from decision research, that simple mechanisms of decision making often work just as well as complex (...)". The following four questions should be asked Clarifying women: have you cried more this week than before? Did you see the future particularly despondently this week? Were you disappointed with yourself this week or did you hate yourself? Did you feel like a failure this week? Are all these questions answered "yes", the suspicion lies close to a clinically relevant depressive mood, the release of the Max Planck Institute.
Rapid test can predict depression A clear advantage of the decision tree is the speed of a possible first classification. General practitioners can use it to determine immediately whether referral to a specialist is required. The rapid test for the diagnosis of depression is meaningful when it is checked on the basis of “the Dresden longitudinal study on mental health - an epidemiological study from 2010, in which about 1,300 young women between the ages of 18 and 25 received information on depression over a period of 18 months Had to give symptoms ”- proven, reports the Max Planck Institute. According to study leader Mirjam Jenny, the analysis showed "that the decision tree can be used to predict depression just as reliably as with more complicated and lengthy methods."
Depression rapid test for men would have to be adapted. Although the rapid test proved to be a reliable tool for early detection of depressive moods, it should be borne in mind that the decision tree for the detection of depression in women was developed and has so far only been tested on this group of subjects the director of studies. According to the experts, a corresponding decision tree for men should take into account that they often show different symptoms than women and, for example, usually experience less sadness. In the long term, the researchers hope that the decision trees will be used extensively in the general medical field as a kind of rapid test, which should help family doctors in particular to identify depression. Because for many patients with depression, their GP practice is the first point of contact.
Concluding diagnosis of depression only the specialist study director Mirjam Jenny emphasized that "the questions of the decision tree can easily be incorporated into the medical history discussion" and that the test could also help non-medical staff in schools or in the military area to treat depression early recognize and initiate further relief measures for those affected. In no case, however, could the rapid test “replace psychiatrists, psychologists or psychotherapists. Ultimately, the diagnosis of depression should always be made in the appropriate professional context, ”explained the study director in the current press release from the Max Planck Institute.
Decision trees as medical aids? In addition to the decision tree for the detection of depression, the researchers at the Max Planck Institute are planning to develop further decision trees for medical issues, such as for emergency medicine. After all, speed is what counts here. (fp)