Blood Test a Diagnosing tool for Depression?
Diagnosing major clinical depression, like other mental disorders, depends largely on patient’s reported symptoms. But its accuracy still depends a lot on the doctor’s experience and resources. Including objective biological tests could improve accuracy of diagnosis, and can even help medical providers determine if therapy is effective or not.
Not the first
There are previous studies wherein body fluids like blood and urine are analyzed for presence of markers of depression in hopes of developing tests. But such methods are not often sensitive in determining who have depression or ruling it out.
But because depression involves a complex change in how the brain works and interacts, studies still focused in the search for biomarkers that can tell changes in brain biology.
The test consists of measuring nine biomarkers associated with inflammation, development and maintenance of neurons and the brain’s ability to adapt to stress, as well as key functions. Those measurements were then computed using a specific formula to produce a score (called MDD Score). This will indicate the likelihood that the individual has depression; it can be in terms of percentage (1 to 100%) or 1-to-10 score for clinical use.
Their method was initially tested on 36 adults diagnosed with major depression and 43 normal individuals. MDDScores accurately pointed 33 out of 36 patients with depression, while only 8 of 43 controls got a false-positive result.
In the replication test with additional 34 patients, 31 were pointed by MDDScore with depression. Overall, the method has 90 percent sensitivity.
If the method is deemed successful in clinical trials and eventually adopted, this could change the way psychiatrist diagnose and manage depression, according to researchers. People often find it hard to accept they have depression based on what their doctors say. The test gives a biological basis that makes it easier for the patient to understand and accept the diagnosis, which paves a way for quick treatment.
The test will also convince the patients that depression is a disease that requires treatment, and it’s a treatable one. It will also help reduce doubts on management.
For experts, the test opens more questions than answers. They say that it provides intriguing new hints, like the contribution of inflammation to depression.
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