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Blood test may be new diagnostic tool for clinical depression

Our posts last week focused on various anxiety disorders that can severely limit an individual’s ability to function socially and to continue working. From the standpoint of Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, these disorders pose unique challenges. They are not always easy to document medically in a way that provides the necessary level of “proof” required by the Social Security Administration.

The diagnosis of mental conditions often relies largely on patient-reported symptoms. As such, supplemental medical evidence is often required for patients who wish to qualify for SSDI benefits. Thankfully, one of most common and debilitating mental conditions may soon be diagnosable through a blood test.

According to a recent news article, researchers in the Midwest have apparently designed a blood test that can diagnose adult clinical depression. The test analyzes nine different RNA blood biomarkers associated with the condition.

It is unclear if and when this test will become widely available. Nonetheless, it could prove to be a significant step forward in the diagnosis and treatment of clinical depression, which afflicts nearly 18 million adults in the United States.

Not only could depression be diagnosed with this blood test, it may also be possible to make more accurate individual diagnoses, which would then inform the most appropriate course of treatment. Not all adults who suffer from clinical depression will respond to the same medications and other therapies.

Many Americans diagnosed with clinical depression are able to treat the disorder effectively enough to lead normal lives and continue working a job. But severe depression that does not respond to treatment may make it impossible to work. Hopefully, advancements like this blood test will make it easier to obtain SSDI benefits for severe depression while improving the success rates of treatment.

Source: CBS News, “New blood test could be first to detect clinical depression,” Jessica Firger, Sept. 16, 2014

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