Depression is the most pervasive mental disorder affecting our society. It’s estimated that roughly 350 million people worldwide are affected, resulting in it being classified as the leading cause of disability. Even so, it’s often difficult to diagnose. Healthcare professionals must rely on a checklist of symptoms, knowing that the condition can manifest itself in different ways.
However, this may be about to change. Researchers in Vienna have found that depression indicators can be detected in a person’s bloodstream. This could be a breakthrough in the development of a blood test for depression, something that had previously been considered impossible.
Serotonin is our brain’s natural mood regulator. Levels are controlled by a protein-based transporter called SERT. Depression results when your brain has an inadequate amount of serotonin, which is why many antidepressants target SERT.
Both SERT and serotonin are present in blood as well. This study used brain MRIs and pharmacological investigation to predict levels of serotonin. They were able to establish a correlation between the chemical’s absorption in the blood and the operation of a depressive network in the brain.
This network, known as default mode, is active during rest periods and suppressed during times of complex mental processes. Our brain is then better able to focus. The discovery was made that this network remains active during these times in people suffering from depression. Accordingly, they find it difficult to concentrate which opens their mind up to negative thoughts.
Study leader Lukas Pezawas expressed optimism that a blood test for depression “could become reality in the not too distant future.” Not only would this make diagnosis easier, it could be a tremendous help in early treatment for individuals who demonstrate depressive tendencies. It may also play a part in removing the stigma associated with depression by those who consider it a weakness rather than a true physiological ailment.
Our knowledgeable caregivers at Transitions Recovery stay up-to-date on all the latest news and discoveries regarding depression and other mental disorders. Please contact our caring staff at 800-626-1980. You don’t have to suffer in silence.