CogniFit's Science blog: New Blood Test To Diagnose Depression

New Blood Test To Diagnose Depression

One in every 10 American adults is affected by the powerful and life-altering mental health disease known as depression. Sadly, it is a number that is quickly rising and the down economy certainly has an impact on that.

Fortunately, researchers say they have developed a blood test that can potentially detect it on a reliable basis.

Experts are extremely optimistic of this new finding saying it could become one of the first objective ways to look for depression. To this point, there is no black and white way of defining or classifying depression in someone. Many understand that psychiatry is a field simply waiting for tests to help with effective diagnoses, being that it is nothing more than clinical assessments that are subjective today.

It can be frightening to think there is no clear way to objectively identify depression today. There may be people who have been given depression as a diagnosis when it is not really the case while others who actually do suffer from it may have walked out with no such diagnosis.

A new test called MDDScore has been developed that could help diagnose depression in the brain. There is much optimism behind this test and the neuroscientific study behind it, but even more exciting is the fact that it is not the first objective study to make way.

With the new test, MDDScore, nine indicators in blood are measured called biomarkers. These are thought to be altered in adults with major depressive disorder. Chronic inflammation is certainly a risk factor for depression. On top of this, hormones, growth factors, enzymes and other proteins acting as chemical messengers seem to be indicators.

The studies conducted delivered startling proof that the blood test is sufficient. In two separate studies involving 70 people with depression and 43 without, the test correctly identified depression about 91% of the time and correctly ruled it out 81% of the time.

What the study did prove is that there is room for improvement. When dealing with mental health, 91% is just not acceptable. Misidentifying 9% of people and falsely diagnosing 19% of people with depression is not going to get it done.

But researchers say the goal of the test is not to nullify clinical judgment or patient experience, but to supplement it. With that, they say these kind of error rates are acceptable since the test isn’t meant to be used as a standalone diagnostic tool.

So while there is room for improvement, the initial findings are exciting. Those suffering from the mental health disorder long known as depression may finally have an objective analysis to properly identify much needed treatment sooner than later.