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The Depression Test

Anonymous self-screening for depression is available online.

Everyone gets blue, but when sad, lonely, hopeless or irritable feelings prevent your getting on with your life, it may be clinical depression. Nearly 20 million Americans suffer from depression each year, according to the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (NDMDA), but nine out of 10 of them don't receive adequate treatment, probably because they view the disorder as a character flaw or sign of weakness and therefore do not seek help.

But now screening for depression can be done anonymously on the Internet, thanks to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA). Their Web site——offers a free and completely confidential screening test that gives instant online results. The test consists of a series of multiple-choice questions concerning mood and habit which, when answered, help identify any depressive symptoms that would indicate the need for further evaluation by a mental health professional.

"We want people to feel comfortable learning about this illness," says Sheala Halper, vice president of public education for NMHA. "Depression is often overlooked simply because people have not yet learned to recognize its symptoms."

The best news of all is that the disorder is highly treatable—the American Psychiatric Association reports that 80% to 90% of all cases can be treated effectively.