A blood test for depression

Scientists have developed a blood test for depression…it will certainly be a whole lot easier than filling out forms to determine the issue.

However the reality is diagnosis of depression is the easiest part…dealing with it and living it is a far great challenge.

A blood test for a major psychiatric disorder is something that many psychiatric researchers have described as a ?Holy Grail.? Especially for a disorder that effects large numbers of people. And that?s exactly what one startup,?Ridge Diagnostics, believes that they have achieved.

Their test takes measurements of 9 different biomarkers. The measurements are then calculated through a set of proprietary algorithms to produce what the company calls an ?MDD Score? ? a number from 1 to 9 that rates how likely it is that a person is clinically depressed, and the level of that depression. The cost of the test right now is about $745. ??

?If you have a 1, you have a 10% or less chance of being depressed,? Ridge?s Chief Scientific Officer John Bilello told me. ?If you have a 9 , you have a 90% chance or better. In the 5-6 range, it?s difficult to make absolute call. At that point, a physician has to use other data or perhaps re-test to see if there was something else going on.?

The biomarkers themselves focus on four different biochemical pathways that are associated with depression. And one key thing that Bilello emphasized to me is that when they did their first experiments involving these biomarkers, they didn?t limit themselves only to those severely depressed, but also those suffering from milder cases of depression.

?We wanted whole spectrum of disease. The mistake that?s often made with people trying to ID disease biomarkers ? they just look at changes in severely ill,? he explained. ?But we wanted to be relevant to general practice.?

I can see that raising issues, particularly with dodgy insurance companies, who may demand these tests in order to cease or erase their obligations under contract. As I said, knowing you have depression is just the first step…dealing with it and all the manifestations is quite another matter.

On the flip side it may help those in a fight with an insurance company. Take the test, still have depression…it will eliminate the willingness of insurance companies to orchestrate medical results to suit a pre-determined outcome in order to get a claimant off claim.

Perhaps with such a test medical professionals, insurance companies and therapists will finally focus on strategies for assisting sufferers of depression rather than seeking to label and limit them.