Identifying this increase up front can help predict which people may need more aggressive treatment early on.
Currently, treatment for depression involves a process of trial and error, with doctors prescribing a particular drug for periods of up to 12 weeks and monitoring patients for any improvement. If no response is seen, a new drug, or combination of drugs, is tried until one is found to be effective.
“If [patients] don’t get better, they just switch drugs and then switch again with hope that one will work,” said Carmine Pariante, professor of biological psychiatry at Kings College London, who developed the test and led the study.
Depression is among the most prominent mental health conditions globally, with an estimated 350 million affected worldwide. Although treatment for the condition can vary, the most common treatment, particularly in industrialized countries, is the prescription of antidepressant drugs.
But it is estimated that half of all patients with depression will not respond to first-line antidepressants. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine) and Prozac (fluoxetine).
“This blood test could cut down this time [in which] people don’t respond,” Pariante said.