Brand-New Depression Blood Test

September 22, 2014


Researchers at Northwestern University have seemingly done the impossible: They’ve developed a blood test to measure major depression in adults by measuring nine RNA blood markers. Previous diagnoses have relied on symptom matching and evaluation. So this new stuff should be much more reliable, right?

Based on the activity of those blood markers, they can also determine which patients would benefit most from cognitive behavioral therapy, and which might need to rely more on medication to help control symptoms.

Truth is, there’s never been anything quite like this.

“This clearly indicates that you can have a blood-based laboratory test for depression, providing a scientific diagnosis in the same way someone is diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol,” said Eva Redei, who developed the test and is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“This test brings mental health diagnosis into the 21st century and offers the first personalized medicine approach to people suffering from depression.”

Anyone who’s dealt with psychological disorders like depression or anxiety understands the pain and frustration. When patients finally come to terms with the fact that they might have a problem and have the courage to seek help, even trained medical professionals can tend to be doubtful or dismissive.

Once a doctor takes the case, a diagnosis can be murky — issues like anxiety and depression are often confused. Even after a diagnosis, the treatment can be akin to throwing spaghetti against the wall. Doctors make educated guesses as to which medications are appropriate, and change course until they find one that works.

This has the potential to change all of that. It is the future, and we’re looking at it.