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A New Blood Test Could Tell You If You're Depressed

The lab test could one day help diagnose the disorder. Which is huge, if it holds up.

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A new study pinpoints blood markers that can help diagnose depression in patients.

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The research, published in Translational Psychiatry, uses a blood lab test and is the first objective diagnosis for the disorder.

The test measures levels of nine RNA molecules, which are like DNA's squires that carry out its instructions.

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The study authors compared 32 patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder with the same number of controls and found the RNA markers' levels differed in depressed patients.

Three of the nine markers remained the same even when the depressed patient went into remission, which might indicate that the person is more vulnerable to the disorder.

Hongqi Zhang/Hongqi Zhang

"These three markers move us towards the ultimate goal of identifying predisposition to depression, even in the absence of a current depressive episode," said study author Eva Reidel, Ph.D., in a press release.

The test also showed the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy that gently reroutes your thoughts to more effectively deal with mental health issues.

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Certain markers changed levels after a patient went through four and a half months of CBT and was evaluated to no longer be depressed.

Even better: When patients' biomarkers exhibit a certain pattern, they are likely to improve with CBT. Finding an effective type of treatment can be trial and error — and amp up frustration when you aren't getting well — so the test can point patients to more individualized treatment.

Attempting to find a test like this isn't new to the field. The researchers write:

The search for an objective diagnostic test with high sensitivity and specificity for [major depressive disorder] has been ongoing for decades.

And as a disorder that is on the rise, depression is a serious global problem in need of more effective solutions.

Via tumblr.com

Clinical depression affects about 6.7% of the world's adult population. If that number doesn't mean that much to you, according to the World Health Organization, it's the leading disability on the planet (for adolescents too, per their recent report).

Further research needs to be done with larger sample groups, but the discovery could offer hope of a sturdier scientific diagnosis.

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