Blood testing for depression

Scientists in the UK have developed a blood test to help doctors pick the best drug for patients with depression.

Doctors sometimes use a trial-and-error approach when selecting the right course of treatment for depression, until finding the most effective one.

The experts involved believe the breakthrough could lead to depressed patients receiving personalised treatments that are more likely to relieve their symptoms.

It’s currently impossible to establish who should or shouldn’t be given antidepressants, or combinations of them. Patients sometimes try different drugs for 12 weeks or more and experience prolonged periods of ineffective treatment because their medication is not beneficial to them.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists said that, if it worked, the test could prove to be a key moment in the quest for the holy grail of biological psychiatry.

The scientists at King’s College London behind the development claim that their test “accurately and reliably predicts whether depressed patients will respond to common antidepressants, which could herald a new era of personalised treatment for people with depression”.

If the test proves effective, it’s hoped that by measuring patients’ level of blood inflammation it would identify which of them would benefit from receiving antidepressants soon after their diagnosis to stop their condition worsening.

Share your thoughts – will blood testing be an effective way to treat depression?

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