Blood tests have been used by medical professionals for years to diagnose various diseases and now researchers have created a test that can diagnose depression in teens, a process they hope will make it easier to determine depression early so treatments can begin at a younger age.
Current tests typically rely on teens to report various symptoms they are willing to divulge and then rely on doctors to properly assess those symptoms, however the new test provides definitive scientific results.
Published in the journal Translational Psychiatry the team of researchers developed a test that looks for certain markets in the blood of teens with major depressive disorder.
Study rats that had genetic markets for depression researchers were able to pinpoint 26 major depression markers. Researchers then looked at the same markets in the blood of 28 human teenagers between the ages of 15 to 29, half who had depression and half who did not.
According to the groups findings 11 of the markets showed up in depressed teens but none showed up in non-depressed teens.
Researchers were also able to use the same markets to determine if teens had only depression or depression combined with anxiety disorders.
Diagnosing teens at an early age is important, according to the National Institute of Mental Health 11 percent of 13 to 18-years-old develop major depression at some time in their teen years. That depression puts teens at greater risk for substance abuse, physical illness and suicide.
While the blood test may be a great way to discover an underlying illness some opponents to the study still remind us that getting to the bottom of the teens depression and working through therapy are still ultimately the best tools at a doctors disposal.