The following research was supported by the National Institutes of Health. Far more funding is needed in the areas of mental health conditions and suicide.

A new blood test can distinguish the severity of a person’s depression and their risk for developing severe depression at a later point. The test can also determine if a person is at risk for developing bipolar disorder. Researchers say the blood test can also assist in tailoring individual options for therapeutic interventions.

At this point in time, our psychiatric experts diagnose and treat mental health conditions by trial and error.  It’s like throwing meds at a person until you see which one makes the mark.  (a dart board, so to speak)

No fault to the psychiatrists. This is all they have to go on at this time.

However, a breakthrough study led by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers sheds new light onto the biological basis of mood disorders, and offers a promising blood test aimed at a medical approach to treatment.  This work builds on previous research into blood biomarkers that track suicidality as well as pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.

The team’s work describes the development of a blood test, composed of RNA biomarkers, that can distinguish how severe a patient’s depression is, the risk of them developing severe depression in the future, and the risk of future bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder). The test also describes specific and tailored medication choices for patients.  This is great news.

This is a comprehensive study over a four-year period of time.  From these studies?

Blood biomarkers are emerging as important tools in identifying disorders where, in the past, we have only had subjective self-reporting or reporting from health care professionals. Those subjective reports are not reliable.  Blood tests are.

“Blood biomarkers offer real-world clinical practice advantages. The brain cannot be easily biopsied in live individuals, so we’ve worked hard over the years to identify blood biomarkers for neuropsychiatric disorders,” says Alexander B. Niculescu, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at IU School of Medicine.

Niculescu also noted that mood disorders are underlined by circadian clock genes–the genes that regulate seasonal, day-night and sleep-wake cycles.  That explains why some patients get worse with “seasonal changes, and the sleep alterations that occur in mood disorders.”

A Blood Test For Depression and Bipolar Disorder