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Clinical depression can be difficult to diagnose. Many patients are not cooperative and sometimes symptoms are not easily quantified. Now, research is looking into a simple blood test that could detect depression in patients with accuracy.
Researchers at Northwestern University have developed the test, which analyzes nine blood biomarkers associated with depression in adults. By measuring the levels of these biomarkers, they believe, doctors could "see" depression in the patient in the same way thyroid, cholesterol, or other issues are initially diagnosed today.
The test looks at levels of RNA blood markers, nine of which appear to be different among patients with diagnosed clinical depression versus those who do not have depression. RNA, of course, are the molecules which help process DNA code instructions.
The University conducted a preliminary study of 32 adults aged 21 to 79 and found that levels of the markers changed after 18 weeks of cognitive behavior therapy. Their test found physical evidence that therapy was working among patients who reported feeling less depressed.
Researchers have also found that biomarkers are different among adolescents, likely due to their changing bodies, so the test would only be useful for adults. With more than 18 million adults in the U.s. suffering from clinical depression, this test could revolutionize how it is diagnosed and how treatments are tailored. The researchers plan to continue investigation into the test's efficacy.
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