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A New Predictive Test for Depression

A New Test for DepressionResearchers from the University College London (UCL) report they have developed a new universal test to predict the risk of someone succumbing to major depression. The online tool could eventually be used by family doctors and local clinics to identify those at risk of depression for whom prevention might be most useful.

The risk algorithm, developed by a team of researchers led by Michael King and Irwin Nazareth, was tested in 6,000 people visiting their family doctor in six countries in Europe (UK, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Estonia).

Its accuracy was also tested in nearly 3,000 GP attendees in a further country, Chile, in South America.

The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, followed up with the participants at six and 12 months.

The team modeled their approach on risk indices for heart disease, which provide a percentage risk estimate over a given time period. The algorithm was as accurate at predicting future episodes of depression as similar instruments developed in Europe to predict future risk of heart problems.

You can take the risk depression test here.

Further testing of the tool as an early detector of depression is planned in randomized trials of prevention in Europe. The team are also exploring the feasibility of using the instrument in China, with plans to set up a study on the prediction of depression in a Chinese community setting. This would be the first-ever research initiative of its kind within Asia.

“Depression is a common problem throughout the world, but although we know how to treat it, we know very little about how to prevent its onset,” noted Professor Michael King, UCL Department of Mental Health Sciences.

“We have ways of predicting the onset of heart disease or stroke, but none for predicting people’s risk of major depression. Our study is one of the first to develop a risk algorithm for just this purpose.”

“Risk tools such as ours are needed to focus more effort on preventing depression. For example, people identified as at risk by an online tool could be flagged on a GP’s computer. Recognition of those at risk could help with watchful waiting or active support, such as restarting treatment in patients with a history of depression. Patients could also be advised on the nature of depression or on cognitive behaviour therapies to help reduce their risk of developing major depression.”

“Major depression is now a leading cause of illness and disability world-wide and reducing its prevalence is one of the greatest public health challenges of the twenty-first century. Depression will rank second to cardiovascular disease as a global cause of disability by 2020. Up to a quarter of people who visit their doctor experience major depression, with relapses frequently occurring for up to 10 years.”

“The next stage of our research will be to establish how GPs could use our tool to help prevent the onset of depression. We are hoping to run a large-scale trial to explore the tool’s use in prevention.”

Source: University of London

A New Predictive Test for Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). A New Predictive Test for Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/12/04/a-new-predictive-test-for-depression/3447.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.