Can that blood test one day reveal depression? Scientists believe that this is quite possible. Moreover, active studies are being conducted on certain markers in the blood plasma, the change of which with a certain degree of probability will indicate the presence of depressive disorders. The problem is quite serious – the patient feels sluggish, his appetite is disturbed, and the sleep pattern is significantly affected. He is either constantly drowsy or suffering from insomnia. The head is clouded by worries and sad thoughts, and emotions are a mixture of hopelessness, self-hatred and guilt.
Depression and its diagnosis: development prospects
If a patient has a whole complex of complaints, including both problems of mood and emotions, guilt and anxiety, and disruption of the internal organs, sleep and appetite disorders, discomfort in different parts of the body – this can be a serious depressive disorder. Today, depression is diagnosed based on there are complaints and some objective signs, as well as answers to the doctor’s questions, there are no laboratory tests and blood tests that detect this pathology. But scientists believe that the appearance of such a study is quite possible, and blood taken from a finger or a vein, in a few years, will help identify depression, along with somatic disorders.
Blood test in the diagnosis of depressive disorders
Although it looks surreal, the appearance of a blood test, which could determine depression based on the deviation of certain indicators, is quite possible in the near future in the practice of doctors. Researchers at Northwestern University recently announced that they have developed a blood test for screening for depression, and after all the necessary studies that determine the accuracy and clarity of the results, they are hoping to gradually put it into practice. According to them, an objective clinical diagnosis can help doctors accurately determine whether a patient is depressed or has other disorders. Besides, A blood test can also help identify people who are prone to depression, even if they do not yet have any emotional or physical symptoms. This will allow doctors to apply certain types of prophylactic treatment for individuals.
What will blood show?
A study published in the Journal of Translational Psychiatry compared blood samples from 32 adult patients with clinical depression was diagnosed with the traditional method, and 32 people who had no signs of depression. The samples analyzed the levels of nine blood biomarkers – molecules that help process the genetic DNA code and translate commands to the body. It was found that blood in patients with depression had an altered level of these molecules. it the discovery can help clinicians detect the presence of depression in a more comprehensible way, reducing the degree of subjective assessment. Not always the patient himself can accurately and clearly describe his emotions and sensations, does not always attach importance to some symptoms, while blood taken for analysis can show more precisely whether there is a problem or not.
Difficulties of evaluation: emotions, malaise, appetite
Depression, like many mental health problems, is today diagnosed mainly on the basis of nonspecific symptoms — those complaints and symptoms that the patient reports or that the doctor identifies during the conversation. Experts evaluate bad mood, negative emotions, motivation, sleep changes, appetite disturbances. But these symptoms are common to many mental disorders, and can also be manifestations of many others – somatic, endocrine and even infectious diseases. Thus, the presence of a screening test that can be used to more accurately detect depression can make a huge difference in treatment.
Depression is often misdiagnosed or not detected at all for many reasons. On the one hand, patients often underestimate their emotions and feelings, do not report some complaints, or cannot fully explain their symptoms. In addition, the district physician may simply not have the experience or training to properly evaluate the patient’s complaints about a serious depressive disorder. Often, to identify depression you need a long conversation, filling out a questionnaire and finding out so many nuances, practitioners often simply don’t have time for this.
Sleep problems, pain, malaise
It is no secret that patients with potential mental disorders often have physical problems, those that are more visible and require the attention of a physician. The predominance of complaints of a somatic nature, when sleep is disturbed or appetite is disturbed, body weight changes dramatically, or pain occurs in certain areas, leading to the fact that problems of negative emotions and mental deviations fade into the background. Therefore, an accurate diagnosis can be determined many months after the onset of pathology. But the longer the depression is not detected and not treated, the harder it is to treat it later. Sometimes, if the patient complains of poor sleep, constant fatigue and unwillingness to do anything, doctors look for more objective reasons for this. A laboratory test can speed up the diagnostic process, plus, equally important, the clinical, unbiased nature of the test can help eliminate diagnostic errors for mental illness.
One of the interesting aspects was that cognitive-behavioral therapy changed biomarkers in the blood. All patients in the “depressive” group worked with a psychotherapist. Four months later, the examination and blood test was repeated. Patients noted the elimination of depression; sleep, appetite returned to normal, depression and negative emotions disappeared. At the same time, they also observed changes in their DNA markers, indicating that the treatment worked. However, three of their biomarker levels still differed from those in the control group. Scientists suggest that some people may be genetically more susceptible to depression than others.