PHQ 2 is a tool used for the diagnosis and management of depression and anhedonia. The purpose of PHQ 2 is to screen for depression in a “first step” approach. It is the smaller version of PHQ 9; basically, it has the first two questions of PHQ 9. A psychometric tool or an instrument like PHQ 2, PHQ 9 enhances health practitioners to easily evaluate depressive mood or anhedonia's core symptoms. It reduces the clinical time for both the patient & the mental health practitioner, and also it ensures people open up easily about their mental health conditions.
Understanding why you need to measure your depressive mood or anhedonia using a tool like PHQ 2 or PHQ 9 is straightforward; a problem not analyzed cannot be solved. Depression is one such major mental disorder faced by almost 15% of people globally. We all come across emotions like sadness, grief, and feeling lost from time to time, but they usually go away within a few days. What happens when these emotions are so persistent and overwhelming. Depression is a diagnosable condition classified as a mood disorder with symptoms like a deep-rooted sadness, lack of interest, low energy, and loss of appetite.
On the other hand, anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure. We all expect certain things in life to make us happy; it may be a long ride or a weekend well spent. But people with anhedonia lose the ability to feel the joy, things that made them content once or no longer fun or enjoyable. It is the major symptom of depressive disorder. PHQ 2 is one such important tool used to measure conditions like anhedonia.
The original PHQ instrument consists of 67 items based on PRIME-MD, which was developed a decade ago to help clinical practitioners to diagnose common mental disorders. This PHQ 9 is the depression module of PHQ; it consists of 9 questions based on the criteria given in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders-IV. PHQ 2 is the 2 items ultra-quick measuring tool but strongly related to depression and anhedonia's core symptoms.
The questions that relate to the depression symptoms are measured against 4 standard responses like "not at all,""several days," "more than half a day,""nearly every day." These response categories are designed based on how often the particular person has been bothered by those 2 symptoms in the past 2 weeks.
The PHQ 2 score is calculated by assigning 0,1,2,3 for each of these response categories starting from “not at all” to “nearly every day” and add them together. The score ranges from 0 to 6. A cut-off point of 3 is considered to be optimal when it is used to measure depression.
If the PHQ 2 score is greater than or equal to 3, it is considered to be positive with the diagnosis of major depressive disorder. Sadness, irritability, loss of interest in everything, sudden weight loss, and insomnia are some usual symptoms of MDD. Patients who screen positive for PHQ 2 evaluation, should be further assessed by a mental health practitioner to determine the severity of the disorder and proceed to treatment as early as possible.
The PHQ 2 & PHQ 9 are considered the best tool to evaluate depression and its related disorders in various countries. Any psychometric tool’s performance will be validated by two factors sensitivity and specificity percentages. Studies have proven that PHQ 2 has a higher sensitivity of 0.86; that is, 86% of the people with depression found positive on PHQ 2 screening test, and specificity of 0.78 or only 22% of them are measured with false positives. (source: National Center for Biotechnology Information ). These 2 factors also make PHQ 2 an attractive tool to measure depression.
It is important to know that depression is a treatable illness, with treatment studies showing that up to 60% to 80% of patients respond when provided with adequate depression care. As of 2017, 264 million people around the world have depression, according to the World Health Organisation. Analyzing and measuring with these tools helps us become aware of our mental conditions and reduces the dangers of poor mental health problems. Early diagnosis and proper therapy are the only solutions you can do to maintain inner harmony and lead a better life.
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