Posted by: jedwardswright | February 22, 2012

What If There Was a Blood Test for Depression?

If you have depression, then it is likely somewhere along the way you have met someone in the medical profession who cast doubt on that diagnosis. You almost certainly have been told by friends, family or even acquaintances that if you would look on the bright side or try harder you would be just fine.

What if there was a reliable, scientific test that could indicate the presence of depression, not unlike getting your blood sugar checked?

Recently, the journal Molecular Psychiatry published an article that indicates such a test may become available before too long. A team of researchers concluded “that a test analyzing levels of nine biomarkers accurately distinguished patients diagnosed with depression from control participants without significant false-positive results.”[i]

How accurate were their results? Researchers were able to identify the blood samples of depressed patients from those of control groups with a sensitivity of 90 percent.

So far only a small study has been done, so larger clinical trials are still required to further assess the practicality of using the test in a larger population, but the results are very encouraging.

This test is different because it uses a formula to take nine separate biomarkers, including some associated with stress and inflammation, to calculate a score measuring from one to ten, whereas previously tests had tried to measure only one biomarker at a time. It is the combination of these factors that makes the test more accurate.

Imagine being able to go to your doctor or medical lab, having blood withdrawn and a short while later having measurable proof that there was something wrong with you!  Patients with depression would be diagnosed sooner, the doubters could be proven wrong and we would have the satisfaction of having tangible scientific data to support our claims that we feel terrible.

It may still take a while for the test to reach a doctor’s office near you, but isn’t it nice to know that a test for depression is more than a theoretical possibility? The next generation may never know the added stress of being grilled over whether or not their symptoms are real, and the stigma surrounding depression would hopefully be decreased.

I look forward to that day.


[i] Massachusetts General Hospital. “Depressed Patients Accurately Distinguished From Healthy Controls By Blood Test.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 3 Feb. 2012. Web.

21 Feb. 2012. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/241100.php&gt;

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Responses

  1. Thank you for this great information and an informative post. The more information like this that is out there the better.

    I have had more blood work done, more tests taken and pee’d in more cups than I want to remember, and all of the information that I have gotten back has helped me on my own mental health journey. Unfortunately, at this point you need to interpret a lot of it yourself, or find a great medical team (which I have but which took a long time to find and I know is not the norm).

    Your optimism about blood tests becoming a way to diagnosis depression in the near future is encouraging.

    Please keep writing.

    • I truly appreciate the positive feedback!
      Jodi

  2. This brings me hope!!


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