Diagnosing depression in the near future will be as easy as defining high cholesterol. The findings of the researchers from Northwestern School of Medicine in Chicago can detect depression with the help of a blood test.
Today, diagnosis of depression is based on surveying the patient, who enlists the symptoms, and physicians prescribe therapy on the basis of these data. The researchers from Chicago say that their method will help identify depression at an early stage and use personalized treatment.
According to the scientists, the new test will be particularly relevant for adolescent patients. Depression in children is difficult to identify because children cannot always tell what depresses and worries them, and so they cannot get the right treatment. The development of the disease at an early age suggests its being of genetic nature, that is inherited.
According to the experts, if the level of depression at a younger age does not exceed 2-4%, depression in teenagers is already at the level of 10-20%. If depression is left untreated, the risk of overusing psychoactive substances increases, there appear difficulties with social adjustment, and the child may get sick often. Sometimes teenagers run away from home, unable to cope with problems on their own, or even attempt suicide. That is why the researchers say it is important to give an early and accurate diagnosis.
To conduct their research, the team of scientists invited 14 teenagers, diagnosed with depression, and 14 healthy teens from 15 to 19 years old. Taking blood samples, the researchers paid particular attention to the 26 biological markers of depression, which had been previously identified in the course of experiments on rats. 11 of these markers were found in the blood of the teenagers, participating in the experiment.
According to the report of the American scientists, published in the Translational Psychiatry journal, biological markers of blood provide objective data that can be used to verify verbal information obtained from the patient and improve the accuracy of diagnosis. Diagnosis and classification of depression at its early stage would help extend the arsenal of therapeutic means and select individual therapy.