Blood tests for mental health?
In mental health, usually diagnosis of any illness is decided by clinical features.
There are no established investigations or the blood tests for mental health, which can diagnose mental disorders.
Investigations are only supposed to be supportive. But now there seems some hope in this regard.
Researchers at Harvard University have created the first-ever blood test to diagnose mental illness.
It is still in its early stages, but could become available to the public within just a few years, revolutionizing the way we diagnose and treat many common mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety.
It works by detecting abnormal levels of various biomarkers in the blood, allowing physicians or neuro-psychiatrists to make an accurate diagnosis based on these tests alone, no lengthy or expensive evaluations necessary.
Now come to main mental illnesses one by one.
People with depression have lower levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which is used to make energy in our bodies.
The scientists found that, people who had been diagnosed with depression and were given anti-depressants to increase their NAD, their symptoms improved significantly and they were able to think more clearly.
With further research, it may be possible to predict whether someone will develop a mental illness based on their blood test results.
People who suffer from anxiety are often aware of it, and it is not uncommon for them to turn to therapy or medication in an attempt to overcome it.
However, a new study suggests that there may be another option on that list.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found a way to diagnose anxiety disorders with the help of a simple blood test.
This can help doctors immediately determine if they should recommend therapy or refer their patient to psychiatry for further treatment.
The researchers hope that in time, a similar test will be developed for other mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
We think that would be amazing, we certainly know people with those disorders who could benefit from early diagnosis.
OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder)
Most adults with OCD begin experiencing symptoms during childhood or adolescence.
Studies suggest that two-thirds of people with OCD were aware they had an anxiety disorder by age 21, but more than half waited more than seven years after their first symptoms to seek help.
Factors that may contribute to a delay in seeking treatment include embarrassment about being diagnosed, social stigma and/or lack of knowledge about available treatment options.
The disorder is characterized by extreme changes in mood, energy, activity levels and thoughts.
These changes may be different from those of a person who is experiencing normal mood swings or those who are going through a major life event, such as divorce or loss of employment.
Although doctors have had to rely on self-reporting by patients when diagnosing bipolar disorder, they now have a tool that offers additional insight into an individual’s mental state: blood tests.
Using samples from patients with bipolar disorder and comparing them to samples from healthy volunteers without any mental health disorders, scientists were able to pinpoint eight genetic abnormalities that were common among those with bipolar disorder but not found in healthy people.
PTSD(Post-traumatic stress disorder)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops after an individual experiences a traumatic event or series of events that causes intense fear.
PTSD affects people differently, but some common symptoms are recurrent and unwanted memories, recurring thoughts about one’s experience, emotional numbness or avoidance of trauma reminders, feeling keyed up, flashbacks and physical reactions to trauma reminders.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
There is a blood test that can determine whether or not you have ADHD.
Doctors at King’s College London have developed a test that measures for a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is associated with conditions like ADHD, Huntington’s disease and depression.
The blood tests are used on young children in order to assess whether they should receive treatment.
If a child is identified as having low levels of BDNF, he or she would then be treated with stimulants and other therapies known to increase BDNF production.
Currently there are no definitive diagnosis for ADHD and it can only be diagnosed by observing patterns of behavior over time; however, doctors will soon have another tool at their disposal.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism
Alcohol is a mind-altering drug that can lead to a spectrum of emotional and physical problems, including both psychological dependence and addiction.
Just ask any of your friends or loved ones. Abuse of alcohol isn’t just unhealthy—it’s also socially damaging.
Though less prevalent than illicit drugs, nearly 17 million Americans aged 12 or older were classified with an alcohol use disorder in 2013. It was also found that 588,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 were dependent on alcohol in 2013 as well.
Blood alcohol levels, breathalyzer test results, urine drug screens, and, less commonly, hair and saliva analysis can be used to assess patients for possible alcohol and other drug use.
While drug tests can help with early detection, they would not be able to detect mental illness until new technology becomes available.
That is where blood tests for mental health come in. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine were able to identify through blood testing genetic patterns associated with schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD and addiction and do so before behavioral symptoms occurred.
The researchers hope that identifying these patterns earlier could lead to better treatment plans for patients as well as prevention options for people at risk for developing mental illness later in life.