• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Blood test offers accurate depression diagnosis?

May 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Cholesterol, cancer, even infectious diseases: your blood can help doctors detect them all. But a blood test to diagnose depression? Not everyone thinks that's a good idea.

Brain chemicals play a big part in depression and now scientists believe you can diagnose the condition with your blood.

"I worry that these meds are thrown at folks," said psychiatrist Dr. James Smith.

Smith says that with a wide variety of symptoms, diagnosing depression and getting patients the right treatment can mean a lot of trial and error.

"Piecing it together, it can be a bit of a challenge," said Smith.

But blood work could now take out some of the guess work. MDDScore is the first blood test to assist in the diagnosis of depression. With a routine blood draw, it measures nine biomarkers and ranks a person's likelihood of having the condition from one to nine. The higher the score the higher the chance of depression.

"I see it as extremely accurate," said Smith.

In studies funded by the test maker, MDDScore was more than 90-percent accurate in catching depression.

"MDDScore more than anything else has given me an opportunity to hit it right on the nose," said Smith.

But Duke University psychiatrist Dr. Harold Koenig has some concerns.

"False positives and false negatives, people who are diagnosed with depression with this test who don't have depression, or missing the depression potentially in someone who really has it who wouldn't get the treatment," said Koenig.

Company officials say the test should be available nationwide by the end of the year.

While skeptical about the blood test, Dr. Koenig says it could be helpful in diagnosing major depression, but more studies are needed before he's convinced.


Load Comments