Can a psychiatric disorder be diagnosed with a blood test? That may be the future if two recent studies pan out. Researchers are figuring out how to differentiate the blood of a depressed person from that of someone without depression.
In the latest study, published today (April 17) in the journal Translational Psychiatry, researchers identified 11 new markers, or chemicals in the blood, for early-onset depression. These markers were found in different levels in teens with depression compared with their levels in teens who didn't have the condition.
Currently, depression is diagnosed by a subjective test, dependent upon a person's own explanation of their symptoms, and a psychiatrist's interpretation of them. These blood tests aren't meant to replace a psychiatrist, but could make the diagnosis process easier.
If a worried parent could have a family physician run a blood test, it might ease the diagnosis process during the already tough time of adolescence, said Eva Redei, a professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who was involved in the study of the teen-depression blood test.
If they hold up to further testing, blood tests could help young adults, who often go untreated because they aren't aware of their disease, get treated. The biological basis of a blood test could also help to reduce that stigma, researchers suggest.