New studies, conducted by a team from the UT Southwestern, reveal artificial intelligence (AI) can detect brain activity that can tell if a patient will have a positive response to antidepressants. Imaging of a patient's brain can help researchers know whether or not medication will be effective for that individual.
Researchers hope to use brain imaging and blood analyses to uncover better treatment options for the mental health issue. "We need to end the guessing game and find objective measures for prescribing interventions that will work," Dr Madhukar Trivedi,founding Director of UT Southwestern's Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care, told a news portal. Adding, "People with depression already suffer from hopelessness, and the problem can become worse if they take a medication that is ineffective."
Imaging was used in both studies to analyse brain activity while processing emotions and in rest mode. More than 300 people participated in the studies. They were divided into two groups - people with depression and healthy control group. Some received antidepressants and others received a placebo.
In the group that received antidepressants, the team saw a link between how effective treatment is and how the brain is wired. "Depression is a complex disease that affects people in different ways," Dr Trivedi told a news portal. Adding, "Much like technology can identify us through fingerprints and facial scans, these studies show we can use imaging to identify specific signatures of depression in people."
The team believes a combination of brain and blood tests will help scientists discover better treatment options. "We need to look at this issue in several ways to identify the many different signatures of depression in the body," Dr Trivedi told a news portal. Adding, "The findings from these new studies are significant and bring us closer to using them clinically to improve outcomes for millions of people."
Another study found a hair strand could help diagnose depression symptoms in teens. "This study opens up a lot of future research questions and illustrates that the relationship between cortisol levels and depression isn't necessarily a linear one," study lead author Jodi Ford told a news portal. Adding, "It may be that low cortisol is bad and high cortisol is bad and there's a middle level that is normal."
Depression is on the rise and there a many contributing factors apart from stress. Exposure to high levels of pesticide could also increase the risk of depression in teens. One study also found a strong association between depression and skin issues. Patients with acne have a higher risk of developing severe depression, according to a study conducted by researchers from theUniversity of Calgary.
"This study highlights an important link between skin disease and mental illness. Given the risk of depression was highest in the period right after the first time a patient presented to a physician for acne concerns, it shows just how impactful our skin can be towards our overall mental health" lead author Dr Isabelle Vallerand, of the University of Calgary, told a news portal.
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