I just read a really interesting article about a study that’s been carried out in the States, the aim of which is to identify blood markers that indicate depression. Wouldn’t that be phenomenal??? Imagine all the uncertainty, all the second guessing, the disbelief, the calls to snap out of it, all completely done away with because we could finally, definitively prove that depression is real. As the article states, ‘the lack of an objective test has facilitated widespread slurs that diagnosed individuals are faking their condition, or that depression does not exist at all. Unsurprisingly, few things are as damaging to a person with depression as the disbelief of those around them.’*
I believe it’s this lack of certainty that has added so much fuel to the fire of stigma. People fear what they can’t understand, or else dismiss it entirely. You can’t see it, you can’t test for it, it doesn’t leave any (obvious) physical marks, ergo, it’s not real.
This lack of definitive knowledge has been a big stumbling block for me over the years. Time and again I’ve had the conversation with Therapist about how I don’t think depression is real, I need to just try harder etc etc etc. Time and again I’ve struggled to accept it. I’ve challenged my psychiatrist on it, repeatedly. Some days I get it, some days I don’t. Right now, when I’m well, I can’t imagine ever feeling that bad again, and to be honest, I can’t properly remember exactly how bad I was when I was at my worst. But I’ve had so many episodes, it’s quite likely it will happen again. Imagine if a blood test could catch the start of an episode before things got out of hand?
It’s also been suggested that a blood test could help match people with more appropriate treatment. Again, think about it. All the trial and error with different types of medications and therapies taken out of the picture, and a clear, tailor made treatment path for each individual – ‘“Currently we know drug therapy is effective but not for everybody and psychotherapy is effective but not for everybody, ” said co-lead author Professor David Mohr. “We know combined therapies are more effective than either alone but maybe by combining therapies we are using a scattershot approach. Having a blood test would allow us to better target treatment to individuals.”‘*
It’s early days yet. The authors of this study acknowledge that a huge amount of work has to be done, but even to get this far is hugely encouraging for those of us living with the on-going threat of depression, ‘Not only does the study represent the first biological indicator of depression, the presence of the three markers during remission offers hope that those vulnerable to depression may be able to get preventative treatment, avoiding episodes entirely’*
I don’t know about you but I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one!