Researchers have developed the first blood test that can identify teen depression, which has been hard to do because of healthy hormonal changes happening around that age.
Differentiating between normal mood swings and early-onset major depression is particularly crucial, since untreated depression makes youths more vulnerable to social maladjustment and later substance abuse.
The new blood test would replace the current method of diagnosing depression, which is asking teenagers to recall their symptoms and talk about their moods – and relying on a physician’s subjective observation.
"Everybody, including parents, are wary of treatment, and there remains a social stigma around depression, which in the peer-pressured world of teenagers is even more devastating," says study researcher Eva Redei at Northwestern University. "Once you can objectively diagnose depression as you would hypertension or diabetes, the stigma will likely disappear."
"Once you can measure it, then everybody believes it's real,” Redei says: “No one could say, ‘Just get yourself together,’” she adds.
The new test might be able to distinguish between certain types of depression for more personalized treatments.
The work was published in Translational Psychiatry yesterday.
[Via New Scientist, US News and World Report, TIME]
Image by Fernando Ariotti via Flickr
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com