Patt Morrison for April 19, 2012

A new blood test may help the diagnosis of depression

Blood Test


Neil Robinson shows a blood sample in Epalinges near Lausanne, Switzerland on February 25, 2009.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that perhaps one in ten American adults suffers from some kind of depression. Causality for depression is murky and ranges from environmental factors to heredity, and doctors say that it is a debilitating, difficult to treat and costly mental illness. But there may be some clarity on the horizon - new evidence found in research with “biomarkers” - messenger molecules that carry genetic instructions - means that a simple blood test may someday be able to indicate depression in a patient, and those who treat depression believe that definitive diagnosis may lead to more effective treatment. The current study focused on teenagers who suffer from depression, a typically difficult to diagnose group, but further research may hold promise for the diagnosis and eventual treatment of depressed adults and the elderly as well.


How would more effective diagnosis of depression help those who suffer from it? What do you do to deal with depression?


Eva Redei, professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences and physiology at Northwestern University and leader of the new depression study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry

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