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Blood Test To Spot Adult Depression

Update Date: Sep 17, 2014 09:25 AM EDT

Researchers have devised a new blood test that could be the first objective scientific way to diagnose major depression in adults, according to a new study. 

The newly devised test measures the levels of nine genetic indicators (known as 'RNA markers') in the blood. The test could also determine who will respond to cognitive behavioral therapy - one of the most common and effective treatments of depression. 

Researchers pointed out that depression affects nearly 7 percent of U.S. adults each year, but the delay between the start of symptoms and diagnosis can range from two months to 40 months.

"The longer this delay is, the harder it is on the patient, their family and environment," said lead researcher Eva Redei, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences and physiology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, in the press release.

"Additionally, if a patient is not able or willing to communicate with the doctor, the diagnosis is difficult to make," she said. "If the blood test is positive, that would alert the doctor."

Findings of the study were welcomed by mental health expert. 

"The mental health profession has, for decades, been seeking an objective measure for detecting major psychiatric disorders," said Dr. Glen Elliott, chief psychiatrist and medical director of the Children's Health Council in Palo Alto, Calif, in the press release. "That the authors seem to have found a measure in such a small sample that appears to be sensitive to a specific treatment-and a psychological intervention at that-is striking if it holds up."

The study was published online in Translational Psychiatry

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