So I decided to try a little experiment. I wanted to see what would happen if I took an online psychological depression test right now. I took the 18-question Goldberg Depression Test (has to be a good one, Jews are often depressed as an ethno-religious trait and Goldberg is a family name on my mother's side) via "Dr. John Grohol's Psych Central" (random Google hit) and was surprised by the obviousness of the questions, and also how hard it would actually be to come up with a "no depression" result. Check out the results table:
If you scored... You may have...
54 & up Severe depression
36 - 53 Moderate/severe depression
22 - 35 Mild to moderate depression
18 - 21 Borderline depression
10 - 17 Possible mild depression
0 - 9 No depression likely
(Below this table reads: “This is not meant as a diagnostic tool.” Well, then what the heck IS it meant for?)
I got a 15 on the quiz, and my depth-of-a-fortune-cookie response was this:
“You appear to be experiencing some depressive symptoms which are often common amongst the general population. It is unclear as to whether you suffer these problems severely enough to need to seek further diagnosis and treatment of them. You should not take your responses to this self-report questionnaire as a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of any sort. Consult with a trained mental health professional if you are experiencing depressive feelings and/or difficulties in your daily functioning that you are worried about.”
I’m left wondering what the heck the point of the quiz is.
Certainly, I understand the importance of not making superficial diagnoses via website tests. It seems entirely meant to get you to that last line, which I'd restate as: "If you're taking online tests about depression, you're probably depressed. In any case, you're worried about depression, so go see a psychologist."
But this is a media studies blog, so let's check the rest of the page's rhetoric. If we look to the right of the quiz and results, we see ads for various psych-related websites, and we also see a little boxed ad that reads:
"Ad: Purchase medications onlineand help underwrite this resource: Paxil Prozac Zoloft Celexa Viagra"
(all names of drugs in the ad are hyperlinks)
Ah. The pharmaceuticals may be in very plain font--there are no huge or flashing letters nor images of happy people giddily downing Zoloft--but I do wonder about who visits this site and what they get out of it.
As for me, I'll just get through the next 10 days without Dr. Grohol, Prozac, or any more depression quizzes. Maybe I'll blog some more about Xmas instead. That keeps me on my toes.