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A New Blood Test Could Help Doctors Prescribe More Appropriate Medications To Treat Depression

3 April 2017, 7:10 am EDT By Luan Chan Tech Times
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The World Health Organization has already expressed its concern over the rise of depression cases, as well as the sickness and disability it causes. Social media sites have even contributed in helping identify users that could be suffering from the condition.

The medical community has also been trying to make identification and prescription more accurate, but it is not always easy when the human mind is involved. While early detection is important, it is not possible for everyone at present. This is why a recent research proposing the use of a new blood test procedure to increase accuracy of prescriptions will be incredibly helpful for medical practitioners.

Depression Treatments In The Past

At present, medical practitioners rely heavily on questionnaires in determining a patient's psychological condition and prescribing antidepressants. Of course, not all prescriptions turn out accurate, and patients who feel they're not getting any better would tend to give up. They are suffering from depression, after all.

Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center's Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care, led a national research more than 10 years ago, which showed that about 40 percent of patients who were prescribed antidepressants stop taking them within three months if they don't see improvements.

Since the problem still seems to persist, Dr. Trivedi wanted to make a connection between the psychological condition and biological factors.

"Giving up hope is really a central symptom of the disease. However, if treatment selection is tied to a blood test and improves outcomes, patients are more likely to continue the treatment and achieve the benefit," Dr. Trivedi said.

A New Hope

Dr. Trivedi's research team analyzed the remission rates of 106 patients and found that a patient's C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in the blood reflect how well the prescribed drug is working.

In order to determine whether their hypothesis is correct, the team tested the blood samples of patients who were prescribed either escitalopram or escitalopram and bupropion. The team found that patients with CRP levels below 1 milligram per liter had a 57 percent remission rate. On the other hand, there was a 51 percent remission rate for patients with high CRP levels when given the escitalopram and bupropion combination.

(Photo : University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)

"These findings provide evidence that a biological test can immediately be used in clinical practice," Dr. Trivedi said.

What's Next In The Research?

Despite already giving conclusive evidence that the new blood test procedure can help medical practitioners, Dr. Trivedi wants to take it a step further and do the same test on other antidepressants.

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