Tags: blood | test | depression

A Blood Test for Depression?

Thursday, 19 April 2012 12:29 PM EDT

A Northwestern University scientist has developed what is being hailed as the first blood test to diagnose major depression in teens.
The finding, hailed as “a breakthrough approach,” would allow objective diagnosis of the condition by measuring a specific set of markers found in a patient's blood, said Eva Redei, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead investigator of the study, published in Translational Psychiatry.
"Right now depression is treated with a blunt instrument," said Redei. "It's like treating type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes exactly the same way. We need to do better for these kids."
"This is the first significant step for us to understand which treatment will be most effective for an individual patient. Without an objective diagnosis, it's very difficult to make that assessment. The early diagnosis and specific classification of early major depression could lead to a larger repertoire of more effective treatments and enhanced individualized care."
Currently, doctors diagnose depression based on a subjective analysis of a patient's ability to recount his symptoms. Teens are highly vulnerable to depression and difficult to accurately diagnose due to normal mood changes during this age period, Redei noted.
The new test can help doctors distinguish between teens with major depression and those with major depression combined with anxiety disorder.
The new study involved 14 adolescents with major depression who had not been clinically treated and 14 non-depressed adolescents, all between 15 to 19 years old. Redei's lab tested the adolescents' blood for 26 genetic blood markers identified in previous research. She found 11 of the markers were able to differentiate between depressed and non-depressed adolescents. In addition, 18 of the 26 markers distinguished between patients that had only major depression and those who had major depression combined with anxiety disorder.
"These 11 genes are probably the tip of the iceberg because depression is a complex illness," Redei said. "But it's an entree into a much bigger phenomenon that has to be explored. It clearly indicates we can diagnose from blood and create a blood diagnosis test for depression."

© HealthDay

A scientist has developed what is being called the first blood test to diagnose teen depression.
Thursday, 19 April 2012 12:29 PM
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