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Four-question test ID's women with depression

Simple decision tool shows potential to detect whether a person has mood disorder

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10:36am, July 11, 2013

A surprisingly simple decision-making tool shows promise as a way for physicians to identify people with depression.

An answer to the first of four questions was all that researchers usually needed to identify women who weren’t depressed, say psychologist Mirjam Jenny of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and her colleagues. Using all four questions, this tool spotted depressed women about as well as two more-complex methods, Jenny’s team reports June 24 in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.

If the findings hold up in other studies, physicians and other professionals with no mental-health training could use this brief technique to tag individuals who need thorough depression evaluations. “This decision tree can be used to screen for depression, but not to reach a final diagnosis,” Jenny says.

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