Quantifying Signs Of Depression

April 18, 2012

A new study has found markers in the blood of depressed teens that were not present in their peers who did not show signs of depression. The new study, published in Translational Psychiatry, is expected to lead to improved diagnosis of depression, and potentially other diseases for which depression is a side-effect.

Increasingly, the practice has become to medicate anyone with a complaint of a mental health problem—even if it’s a parent or guardian voicing the concern on behalf of a minor. Subsequently, a generation is coming of age who has been on various medications—for ADHD, depression, OCD, etc.—and who will have to deal with the the consequences: long term side-effects, identity issues, and whether or not to continue with medications or try alternate treatments.

Blood markers, in this respect, would be a huge game-changer, not just in future diagnosis but for those who have been on long-term depression medication. Signs of depression can occur for a number of reasons, from major life-events to actual physical problems that may be undiagnosed. Physically identifying signs of depression, rather than evaluating them based on self-reported data, may help people who don’t need medication identify alternative causes and eliminate the signs of depression as well as medication.

Of course, as with all studies, this one needs repeating before anything interesting will happen. As with the Chronic Fatigue fiasco of last summer (a study linking the condition to a virus was found to have been contaminated and thrown out—the lead scientist packed her lab and fled) it may be disproven.

Is this good news, or do you think it could lead to more diagnoses, rather than improved help and treatment? Let us know below!

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