Can a new blood test lead to better treatment of teenage depression?

At times, depression can be difficult to diagnose, especially in teenagers who are naturally temperamental and moody. But now, a new study is suggesting that all doctors need to discover depression in adolescents is a blood test!

Research developed by a scientist at the Northwestern School of Medicine says that instead of having patients list their symptoms as a means of leading to a diagnosis, a new blood test can do all the work for them. And the test won't just help pinpoint the disease --scientists believe that it might also help distinguish between types of depression, allowing for more individually-based treatments.

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The research team came to this conclusion after running experimental blood tests on 14 teens with untreated major depression and 14 non-depressed teens, all between 15 and 19 years old.  They found 11 genes that could signify depression and 18 genes that distingushed major depression from another version of the disorder, major depression with anxiety.

Read more ¿Qué más?: Are you risking your baby's health by taking antidepressants?

So what do these results mean for teens? The blood tests could help personalize the way doctors approach teenage depression and more specific treatment could lead to better control of the disease.  

I'm really not a big fan of needles, but I have to say that if this blood test works the way it should, it could make a HUGE difference in the way teens manage their depression. And since depression among youth is fairly common (the rate of the disorder is about 10 to 20 percent in late adolescence), that's absolutely great news!

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In fact, if it means teens have a chance at getting an earlier diagnosis and improved treatment, even those with the biggest needle-phobias (like me!) have to admit that maybe a blood test isn't always a bad thing.

What do you think of the new study?

Image via r.f.m II/flickr

Topics: health care  latino health  womens health  diseases  mental health