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Online test predicts risk of serious depression

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A new online test has been developed to predict the risk of an individual suffering from a serious bout of depression.

The tool, called predictD, could be used by GPs and in clinics to predict which patients are at risk of depression.

It uses a risk algorithm, developed by a team led by University College London professors Michael King and Irwin Nazareth to predict the risk.

A study of 6,000 people in the UK, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Chile and Estonia identified risk factors for depression.

Risk factors identified were age, sex, educational level achieved, results of a lifetime screen for depression, family history of psychological difficulties.

Poor physical and mental health, unsupported difficulties in paid or unpaid work and experiences of discrimination were also risk factors for depression.

Depression risk varies by country

Results showed incidences of depression over 12 months were highest in Spain (15.1%) and lowest in Slovenia (4.2%).

According to the study, 8.8% of the UK population suffered a serious bout of depression, above the European average of 7.7%.

Authors wrote: ‘To our knowledge, this is the first risk algorithm to be developed simultaneously in a number of cultures in one continent for prediction of new episodes of major depression in a general medical setting and validated in another continent.’

Archives of General Psychiatry (2008) 12:1368-1376

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