According to a Reuters story, scientists have identified biological markers in the blood that may eventually help doctors match patients to the best type of treatment for depression.
The story says major depression affects around 20 percent of people at some point in their lives, and the World Health Organization predicts it will soon rival heart disease as the health disorder with the highest global disease burden.
But up to now, treatment has been problematic. The article says it’s widely accepted that many antidepressants work in only half of patients half of the time, and drugmakers are struggling to come up with a new generation of drugs in this field.
A number of studies have also linked the most widely prescribed class of antidepressants – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – with potentially dangerous heart and lung defects in newborns. SSRI antidepressants include Prozac and Zoloft.
Reuters says British researchers found that high levels of inflammation, which manifest themselves in biological markers in the blood, are part of the mechanism leading to depression. That’s especially true for particular forms of depression that don’t respond well to mild or low-dose antidepressants.
The report quotes study leader Carmine Pariante of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry as saying: “If a patient had high levels of inflammation, they could immediately begin with a more intensive treatment program, such as combining antidepressants or stepping up the doses.”
Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with an SSRI lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries from SSRIs.