Using a blood test to screen for depression
A new study published it the Journal Translational Psychiatry with Eva Redei, Ph.D. as lead investigator, indicates that screening for depression might soon be as easy as a blood test. The huffingtonpost.com reported on this study and said that the new test that identifies particular molecules in the blood could help doctors diagnose patients with clinical depression. Further, it was found that the blood test could also predict which therapies would be most successful for patients, and lays the groundwork for identifying people who are especially vulnerable to depression — even before they’ve gone through a depressive episode (huffingtonpost.com).
Lead investigator Eva Redei indicated perhaps the most exciting news to come out of the study when she said, “but perhaps just as important (as finding the link between molecules in the blood and depression) is the potential the test has for taking some of the stigma out of a depression diagnosis. When depression can be confirmed with a blood test like any other physical ailment,” she said, “there’s less stigma about having the disease and getting treatment.”
Redei feels adamantly that having an objective diagnosis will help to decrease the stigma surrounding depression. That is to say, that the fact that depression is an actual illness can be identified instead of the common belief that depression is a matter of will.
Also exciting, is that the blood tests Redei is formulating can lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses of depression. Currently, depression often takes from 2 to 40 months to diagnose and sometimes diagnoses get missed altogether. The blood test could lead to quicker diagnoses and then onto quicker treatment of and relief from depression. The blood test can also indicate that individuals are prone to depression even if they have not yet experienced the symptoms.
The findings of Redei’s study are significant because of the stigma that can be changed, the speed of diagnosis being increased, and the treatment being fast as well. However, many critics indicate that more studies on different test groups of individuals are needed before the FDA will allow the blood test in a routine lab setting.
The huffingtonpost.com reports that, “Zachary Kaminsky, Ph.D., of the Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine, wasn’t involved with the study but is excited about its potential implications for depression treatment. Kaminsky is a pioneer in blood tests to predict suicide risk, and although he and Redei measure very different things in their tests, he sees that both researchers have similar goals when it comes to creating biological tests for mental illnesses.”
Kaminsky also indicated that finding a blood test that would indicate depression and predisposition to depression is an exciting thing that is very interesting and worth following up on.