Results of research by a team of researchers at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago were published in Translational Psychiatry on April 17th, showing that a blood test can diagnose depression in teens. This marks the development of a biologically-based diagnostic tool for mental illness, similar to diagnostic tools available for most physical illnesses. Currently, a depression diagnosis in teens relies on a patient’s willingness and capacity to accurately report symptoms and their physician’s subjective observations. A more objective diagnostic tool may lead to earlier diagnoses, thus potentially preventing other risk factors of teen depression including substance abuse, a range of physical illnesses and suicide.
NARSAD Grantee, Adelaide Robb of the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. comments with cautious optimism in the article: “Taking something from an animal model and saying it means something in people is making a big leap. A finding among 14 is not the same as saying something is present in 1,000 people.” She continues by acknowledging that this is a solid first step that gives researchers an idea of where to look for further blood-test development. “If we could identify several subtypes of depression, we could, hopefully, target treatments for subsections of people with certain abnormal neurochemicals,” she says.
I Thought Maybe This Was Normal - Meet Owen, an 18-year-old who has been battling depression and bipolar disorder since he was eleven. Today, Owen is enrolled at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and his mental illness is stabilized thanks to research and hope.