Blood testing catching depression and helping pinpoint treatment

Doctors are using blood to figure out what’s going on inside patients’ heads, including picking up on cholesterol levels, cancer and even infectious diseases.

Angel Schwiefert was diagnosed with depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder, several years ago. Since then she has tried three different anti-depressants hoping to get some relief.

"We really couldn't get the dosages right or the right medications" said Schwiefert.

Dr. James A. Smith III, Medical Director at Carolina Partners in Mental Health Care says he is worried medicine is just thrown at patients.

Dr. Smith says with a wide variety of symptoms, diagnosing depression and getting patients the right treatment can mean a lot of trial and effort on the part of medical professionals.

"Piecing it all together can be a bit of a challenge,” says Dr. Smith.

Now, blood work could take out some of the guess work. MDD Score is the first blood test to assist in the diagnosis of depression. With a routine blood draw, it measures nine biomarkers and ranks a person’s likelihood of having the condition from one to nine. The higher the score the higher the chance of depression.

It’s a process Dr. Smith says is “extremely accurate.”

In studies funded by the test maker, MDD Score was more than 90-percent accurate in catching and detecting depression.

"MDD Score more than anything else has given me an opportunity to hit it right on the nose,” said Dr. Smith.

But Duke psychiatrist and professor behavioral science, Dr. Harold G. Koenig has some concerns.

"False positives and false negatives, people who are diagnosed with depression with this test who don't have depression, or missing the depression potentially in someone who really has it who wouldn't get the treatment."

Schwiefert says she was surprised to see she scored high on the blood test. She says her psychiatrist upped the dosage of her anti-depressant from 37.5 to 375 milligrams per day. Now, Schweifert is getting back to her favorite hobbies and thanks MDD Score for helping her get the life-changing treatment she needed.

Right now MDD Score is available in most states. Company officials say it should be available nationwide by the end of 2013. And while some are skeptical about the blood test, Dr. Koenig says it could be helpful in diagnosing major depression.

RESEARCH SUMMARY

TOPIC: HEAD-DEPRESSION BLOOD TEST
REPORT: MB # 3611

BACKGROUND: Depression goes beyond feeling sad. It is a serious medical illness that affects a patient's thoughts, behavior, mood, feelings, and physical health. It is a life-long condition where patients experience periods of wellness with recurrences of illness. Every year depression affects five to eight percent of adults in the United States. Major depression, also known as clinical depression, and chronic depression, called dysthymia, are the two most common types. However, there are other types that have unique signs, symptoms, and treatment. (Source: www.webmd.com)

TYPES/SYMPTOMS: Major depressive disorder is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person's ability to sleep, work, study, and eat. An episode of clinical depression can occur only once in a person's life, but it also can reoccur throughout a person's life. Chronic depression is characterized by a long-term (two or more years) depressed mood. It is less severe than major depression and does not typically disable the person. Atypical, or regular, depression's symptoms tend to be marked by pervasive sadness and a pattern of loss of appetite and difficulty falling or staying asleep. Although overeating, oversleeping, fatigue, extreme sensitivity to rejection, and moods that worsen are other symptoms associated with atypical depression. Seasonal depression is depression that occurs every year at the same time. It usually starts in the fall or winter and ends in the spring or summer. Psychotic depression's symptoms include delusional thoughts or other symptoms related with reality. Finally, postpartum depression is diagnosed when a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after they deliver the baby. It affects one in ten moms. (Source: www.webmd.com)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: There are numerous depression treatments available. Medications and psychological counseling are very effective for many people. However, often depression is misdiagnosed and depression can have a wide variety of symptoms. So, diagnosing depression and getting the right treatment for patients can mean a lot of experimentation. The MDDScore is a simple blood test that can aid in the diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD). It looks at a combination of biochemicals from four different biological pathways in the body. The blood levels of the individual body chemicals are measured and then entered into a mathematical equation to obtain a single test score. The score then represents a person's likelihood of having MDD. The MDDScore is not meant to replace traditional interview methods, but it is meant to add an unbiased element that compliments the patient interview. The benefits of a MDDScore include: it provides biological evidence to support a diagnosis, increases confidence and acceptance in the diagnosis, helps the patient and their loved ones better understand their medical condition, and it empowers the patient to accept and manage the disorder. Most insurance companies are reimbursing for the test. (Source: www.mddscore.com)

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

James A. Smith, III, MD
Medical Director
Carolina Partners in Mental Health Care, PLLC
JSmith5206@aol.com

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew McIntosh at amcintosh@ivanhoe.com.


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