A Blood Test to Diagnose Depression

· January 5, 2017
The possibility of an analysis to diagnose depression will lead to an improvement in the way in which many view this mental illness.

“I don’t know what’s going on with me. I have no zest for anything. All I want is to be alone. Why is this happening to me? Sometimes it seems like I’m going to get back on my feet, but other times… even taking a shower requires great effort.”

These statements, as well as the statement “nobody understands me,” are very typical of people with depression.

They feel that they have no way to demonstrate what is happening to them and they experience a deep feeling of loneliness that increases every time someone utters the famous, “How will you get better if you don’t make an effort on your part?”

Perhaps the latter is one of the most painful thoughts. People with mental illnesses and mental disorders feel misunderstood.

In the case of depressive disorders, the common belief is that those who suffer from them are weak or cowardly. However, this isn’t the case. The level of pain they suffer is only bearable if you’re a very strong person.

You must want to live to keep going, despite feeling disconnected from the world. There is no more proof of your willpower than this.

The reason why this interpretation occurs is because we consider what we can measure or see as an illness. This is why illnesses that cannot be translated into numbers are often downplayed. 

This is why the ability to diagnose depression with a blood test relieves these people. They will finally be able to prove that their torment is real, is not a bad streak, nor lack of character.

Can a blood test diagnose depression?

Mujer con depresión

Scientists at the University of Vienna knew that this disorder was linked to serotonin. This is the substance that is responsible for producing positive emotions and ideas.

Therefore, people affected by depression have low levels of this compound. Thus, these scientists began to work from this assumption.

Lukas Pezawas, director of the study, says that they have discovered the process by which serotonin is produced in the blood.

The SERT protein, arranged on the membrane of the brain cells, allows the transportation of serotonin. The main discovery is that they have found that the protein is also present in other organs.

Among them, the intestine or the blood stand out.

In addition, this protein works the same way as it does in the brain. Thanks to this, a much larger “depression network” can be drawn than was previously thought.

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Therefore, the amount of serotonin contained in blood platelets will be indicative of what happens in the brain. To be sure, they contrasted analytical results with imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging.

The revolution is closer every day

The depression network is what is called a “network in automatic mode.” It receives this name because, when it deals with complex ideas, it’s disabled.

However, when the brain is at rest, it’s activated.

What happens in a depressive process is that it stops working properly so that negative automatic thoughts begin to appear. According to the study, a blood test will soon be enough to diagnose depression.

 

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This will dignify the illness. It will never again be doubted, and those affected will not have to endure value judgments towards their illness, be accused of lack of character, of being fragile, or of not knowing how to face life.

Many patients complain that those around them think that they have reached this point of their own volition or because of a lack of effort.

In this sense, depressed individuals can demonstrate the veracity of their discomfort through a physical examination.

However, we would like to draw attention to the importance of family support in mental disorders.

When someone has depression, their self-esteem drops. Thus, if their family and friends show, in addition, misunderstanding towards their illness, the problem gets worse.

This is similar to twisting an arm when it’s fractured. Pain and injury increase. No one deserves that.