It relies on the patient's ability to recount his symptoms and the physician's ability and training to interpret them. Diagnosing teens is an urgent concern because they are highly vulnerable to depression and difficult to accurately diagnose due to normal mood changes during this age period.
The test also is the first to identify subtypes of depression. It distinguished between teens with major depression and those with major depression combined with anxiety disorder. This is the first evidence that it is possible to diagnose subtypes of depression from blood, raising the hope for tailoring care to the different types.
"Right now depression is treated with a blunt instrument," said Eva Redei, a lead investigator of the study. "It is like treating type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes exactly the same way. We need to do better for these kids."
"This is the first significant step for us to understand which treatment will be most effective for an individual patient," added Redei. "Without an objective diagnosis, it is very difficult to make that assessment. The early diagnosis and specific classification of early major depression could lead to a larger repertoire of more effective treatments and enhanced individualised care."
The estimated rates of major depressive disorder jump from 2 to 4 per cent in pre-adolescent children to 10 to 20 per cent by late adolescence. Early onset of major depression in teens has a poorer prognosis than when it starts in adulthood. Untreated teens with this disease experience increases in substance abuse, social maladjustment, physical illness and suicide. Their normal development is derailed, and the disease persists into adulthood.
The depressed teens in the study were patients Doctor Kathleen Pajer of the Research Institute of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The study subjects included 14 adolescents with major depression who had not been clinically treated and 14 non-depressed adolescents, all between 15 to 19 years old. The depressed and control subjects were matched by sex and race.
Redei first isolated and identified the genetic blood markers for depression and anxiety based on decades of research with severely depressed and anxious rats. The rats mirror many behavioral and physiological abnormalities found in patients with major depression and anxiety.
MEDICA.de; Source: Northwestern University