Therapists treating depression don’t have a biological test to determine which drug will work best for a patient suffering from depression. Quite often it becomes a guessing game with a lot of trial and error. But thanks to UT Southwestern researchers who developed a simple blood test, therapists and physicians will be able to prescribe a more successful first treatment without guesswork.
Head Author of research Dr Madhukar Trivedi says that: “Currently, our selection of depression medications is not any more superior than flipping a coin, and yet that is what we do.” Dr Trivedi says this based on over a decade of experience in his research. He found that one third of patients who were diagnosed with depression received an initial first prescription that was not effective. This also causes another sad statistic. 40% of patients needing a prescription for their depression stopped taking medications all together within 3 months because it wasn’t effective.
Dr Trivedi says that people with depression give up hope. That’s what depression is all about. But if these patients knew they would have better results based on a blood test they would stick with their treatment and get better.
The researchers found certain proteins found in the blood may be related to depression. Someone who needs treatment for depression that has a low level of that protein will need one type of medication. When this protein is found in higher levels an additional drug together with the first drug is a more effective treatment. The researchers are looking to see if this protein reacts with other anti-depressants.
Testing for this protein called CRP involves a pin prick to the finger to draw some blood so it’s pretty straight forward and inexpensive. It should be noted that researchers believe there are other telltale signs of depression detectable through various tests but none are as simple as a pin prick test. If depression can be more accurately treated according to what the blood tests show many more people will be relieved of this debilitating emotional illness.
This is good news but we must point out that the research is still in its earlier stages. Let’s hope the team comes out with their breakthrough and help a lot of depressed people get better!
This new research from UT Southwestern was recently published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center