New Blood Test Could Diagnose Depression in Teens
As scientists, laboratorians appreciate the ability to look at a specimen and extract diagnostic information that, if not definitive in and of itself, can combine with other clinical information to diagnose a patient. A specific diagnosis leads to proper treatment and care.
Unfortunately, for mental disorders, diagnosis isn't that simple. Often, diagnosis depends on a patient's willingness to truthfully report their symptoms. This can be especially problematic with teenagers, who don't exactly have a reputation for being open about their feelings.
Now, a new blood test may help identify teens struggling with major depressive disorder, according to a study published last week in Translational Psychiatry. The team at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago identified 26 markers of major depression. According to the study authors, these biomarkers have not previously been associated with depression. Twenty-eight teenagers--half with depression, half without--were assessed for the markers. Eleven of those markers showed up in the depressed teens, and not in the others.
Of course, depression and other mental health conditions are complicated, and a blood test won't solve all of the diagnostic difficulties associated with them. But any step toward improved diagnostics that can improve the quality of life--especially for a young person--is a step in the right direction.