Study of the Day: Blood Tests Can Accurately Diagnose Depression

More

New research shows that blood screenings can accurately spot multiple telltale biomarkers in patients with classic symptoms of depression.

main Themalni shutterstock_94195756.jpg

PROBLEM: Depression has traditionally been diagnosed with a questionnaire that assesses patients' reported symptoms. This process varies greatly, however, since it relies heavily on the clinician's experience and resources.

METHODOLOGY: To test if an objective biological test could improve diagnosis accuracy, scientists recruited 36 adults with major depression and 43 healthy participants for a blood screening. They measured the levels of nine biomarkers associated with depressive symptoms, such as inflammation, the development and maintenance of neurons, and the interaction between brain structures involved with stress response and other key functions.

RESULTS: The blood test indicated the presence of depression in 33 of the 36 patients and registered false positives for eight of the 43 participants in the control group. The scientists validated these findings with a second trial where 31 of the 34 depressed patients were also successfully diagnosed.

CONCLUSION: Blood tests can detect depression.

CAVEAT: The scientists are planning on conducting larger-scale studies in clinical settings to fine-tune their test. For now, though, study co-author John Bilello hopes that "the biological basis of this test may provide patients with insight into their depression as a treatable disease rather than a source of self-doubt and stigma."

SOURCE: The full study, "Assessment of a Multi-Assay, Serum-Based Biological Diagnostic Test for Major Depressive disorder: a Pilot and Replication Study," is published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Image: Themalni/Shutterstock.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In