A preliminary study finds certain biological markers in the blood of teens with depression that are absent in healthy counterparts. It could lead to the first diagnostic testing for depression.
The test examined a panel of 28 biological markers that circulate in the bloodstream and found that 11 of them could predict the presence of depression at accuracy levels that ranged from medium to large. And if that were not remarkable enough, researchers pulled off this feat in a group of teenagers, whose angst often defies all efforts at classification.
The study, published online Tuesday in the journal Translational Psychiatry, offers hope that doctors can do a better job of helping adolescents whose mood difficulties go beyond those of typical teens, and whose lifelong prospects could be greatly improved by early treatment. What’s more, by using objective data to diagnose mental pain, researchers hope to remove the stigma that often prevents patients from reaching out to doctors.
"For the study, researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health analyzed the Facebook profiles of 200 college sophomores and juniors. They found that 25 percent of the students showed one or more symptoms of depression — including references to decreased interest or pleasure in activities, change in appetite, sleep problems, loss of energy and feelings of guilt or worthlessness,” reports Linda Shrieves.