Results yielded from a new study from the Northwestern University indicate that researchers may be able to discern if adults have depression simply from blood tests. This may be groundbreaking news in the world of psychology, as it would be the first objective method that can screen for depression.
The study, led by Dr. Eva Redei, states that approximately 7 % of the population in the United States experiences depression; however, depression can often take many months–or in some cases, even years–to discover, diagnose, and treat. This can be problematic for both the individual experiencing depression, as well as their family and friends, as the longer the delay, the more difficult it can be to treat the depression.
The research team used a sample size of 64 adults (ages 21-79); 32 were diagnosed with depression, and 32 were not. The test worked by measuring the blood concentration of nine genetic indicators, referred to as “RNA markers.” RNA molecules in a cell are what interpret its genetic code. It then can execute the instructions from the DNA. In this study, RNA is isolated from the blood and measured. There are differences when comparing RNA levels between the depressed and non-depressed population. The test purportedly is 72-80 % effective, which the researchers state is similar to the effectiveness rates for the standard diagnostic clinical interviews.
Further testing is required in order to conclusively determine if this study will be able to maintain its reliability, but it appears to be an extremely valid start. It is amazing to think how technological advancements may benefit the world of psychology in the future.
Haelle, T. (2014, September). Blood Test Spots Adult Depression: Study. HealthDay. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/healthnews/articles/2014/09/16/blood-test-spots-adult-depression-study
Faisal Roberts, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern