How to Diagnose Depression – A Blood Test

A simple blood test is a new way to diagnose depression – and this test also helps doctors determine the best treatment for depression: counseling, antidepressants, or a combination of both talk therapy and medication.

blood test depression diagnosisSometimes the signs of depression don’t necessarily mean you’re depressed – which is why this blood test as a way to diagnose depression is important. But, sometimes feelings of anxiety, guilt, pessimism, procrastination, low self-esteem, and other “black holes” of can be cured without a diagnosis of depression or anti-depressants. In  Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, Dr. David Burns outlines the scientifically proven techniques that will immediately lift your spirits and help you develop a positive outlook on life. He also includes a Consumer′s Guide to Anti-Depressant Drugs, as well as a new introduction to help answer your questions about the many options available for treating depression.

In this article, I summarize research that describes a new way to diagnose depression. Currently, doctors know how to diagnose depression, but it’s subjective and based on non-specific symptoms. Poor mood, fatigue, loss of energy, listlessness, and change in appetite can apply to a large number of mental or physical problems. A diagnosis of depression also relies on the patient’s ability to report his symptoms and the physician’s ability to interpret them. Since people who are depressed patients frequently underreport or inadequately describe their symptoms, it’s important to have a test to diagnose depression accurately – which is what this blood test may be.

If you have no energy and struggle with a poor mood, read A List of Yummy Foods That Help Fight Depression. It’s possible you’re simply not eating the right foods or getting the right nutrition.

A Blood Test to Diagnose Depression

Northwestern Medicine® scientists have developed the first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults. This is the first objective, scientific diagnosis for depression. This blood test identifies depression by measuring the levels of nine RNA blood markers (RNA molecules are the messengers that interpret the DNA genetic code and carry out its instructions).

“This clearly indicates that you can have a blood-based laboratory test for depression, providing a scientific diagnosis in the same way someone is diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol,” said Eva Redei, developer of the depression test and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This test brings mental health diagnosis into the 21st century and offers the first personalized medicine approach to people suffering from depression.”

This researcher previously developed a blood test that diagnosed depression in adolescents. Most of the markers she identified in the adult depression panel are different from those in depressed adolescents. Knowing how to diagnose depression in adults with a blood test that is measurable and scientific is a huge leap towards offering people better mental health services.

A blood test for depression is more accurate. “Mental health has been where medicine was 100 years ago when physicians diagnosed illnesses or disorders based on symptoms,” said co-lead author David Mohr, a professor of preventive medicine and director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Feinberg. “This study brings us much closer to having laboratory tests that can be used in diagnosis and treatment selection.” The new blood test for depression will allow doctors to use lab tests to determine what treatments will be most useful for individual patients.

This test also reveals who is vulnerable to depression. “Being aware of people who are more susceptible to recurring depression allows us to monitor them more closely,” Mohr says. “They can consider a maintenance dose of anti-depressants or continued psychotherapy to diminish the severity of a future episode or prolong the intervals between episodes.”

Are you struggling with what you think might be depression? Read How to Ask for Help When You’re Depressed.

The Blood Test Shows the Best Treatment for Depression

diagnosing depression blood test

“How to Diagnose Depression – A Blood Test”

Anti-depressants are effective treatments for depression for some people, but not everyone. Counseling or psychotherapy works to treat some depressed people, but not others. A combination of both talk therapy and anti-depressants is the best treatment for depression for most people, but it’s not ideal to use both for everyone. A blood test that not only diagnosed depression but also shows the best treatments for the depressed person will help people recover faster.

Will counseling, anti-depressants, or a combination be the best treatment for depression? The blood test predicts who will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, based on the behavior of some of the RNA markers. This will provide the opportunity for more effective, individualized therapy for people with depression.

The blood test also shows the biological effects of cognitive behavioral therapy on depression. This is the first measurable, blood-based evidence of the how successful cognitive behavioral therapy is. This finding surprised me – what if the depression blood test says the therapy was successful, but the person doesn’t feel less depressed? Who’s right: the blood test or the person?

If you’ve been diagnosed with depression and aren’t ready to try anti-depressants or talk therapy, read 8 Natural Treatments for Depression.

I welcome your thoughts on how to diagnose depression with a blood test below. I can’t offer counseling or advice, but it often helps to share your experiences.

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