When mental health care providers suspect that someone has depression, they rely on symptoms to help make the diagnosis. But some cases do slip through. Now, a new study, according to a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, finds that a blood test may provide much-needed information for identifying this illness, which affects an estimated one in ten U.S. adults.
Researchers brought in 36 men and women with major depression, and another 43 who'd never had this problem. Everyone provided a blood sample. The researchers checked the samples for nine substances that may serve as markers of depression. One of the markers was cortisol, the so-called stress hormone. They used these measurements to create a score that pointed to whether or not each person had depression.
The blood test appeared to be a fairly accurate way to identify people with depression. The researchers say adding an objective biological test might also help doctors choose the best treatment approach and track a patient's response better.
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