'One would be forgiven for believing that there is an epidemic of depression worldwide. In the United States, for example, the number of prescriptions filled out for antidepressants more than doubled in 12 years, from 11.2 million in 1998, to 23.3 million in 2010. But is this a true reflection of the mental health of the nation, and indeed the world? Are all these people truly depressed, or could many of these diagnoses be incorrect?
Experts warn that part of the problem may be a health questionnaire used by doctors to determine whether or not their patients might have depression. Known as the PHQ-9, the nine-part quiz asks patients how often they have been aware of certain issues over the preceding two-week period.
These problems include:
- Little interest or pleasure in doing things;
- Feeling down, depressed or hopeless;
- Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much;
- Feeling tired or having little energy;
- Poor appetite or overeating;
- Feeling bad about yourself – or that you are a failure, or have let yourself or your family down;
- Trouble concentrating on things like watching TV or reading the newspaper;
- Slow speech or movement; and
- Thoughts of suicide or the desire to hurt oneself in some way.
Patients are required to select either a) not at all; b) several days; c) more than half the days; or d) nearly every day. Points are assigned for each response, and hey presto, a diagnosis is made of no depression, mild depression, moderate depression, moderately severe depression or severe depression.
It is obvious just by glancing at this questionnaire that there is no way it could accurately make a diagnosis of depression, let alone the exact degree thereof. Most of us can identify with many of the feelings on the list, and have probably experienced several of them simultaneously when going through periods of higher than normal stress, like divorce or the death of a loved one. In many cases, those symptoms are simply a reflection of the fact that we are going through a tough time, and we often start feeling better after a few weeks. The questionnaire is especially subjective in that it only examines a two-week period – most certainly not a sufficient period of time to make the diagnosis of a serious mental health issue.'
Read more: PHARMA CON JOB: Doctors are using Big Pharma-created “quiz” to diagnose people with mental illnesses (and put them on high-profit psych drugs)