New Research: Brain Scans Could Detect Best Antidepressants to Take - Dispatch Weekly

October 11, 2016 - Reading time: 5 minutes

New Research from Sydney’s Westmead Institute for Medical Research and Stanford University have found that a brain scan could help diagnose which depression medication would work best for individuals.

This would help speed up the process in finding the right medication, in a matter of weeks rather than years of trial and error prescriptions.

Depression: the Statistics

According to

  • 80 percent of individuals affected by depression do not receive any treatment
  • 1 in 10 Americans at one point or another has suffered from depression.
  • 20% increase of patients diagnosed with depression every year
  • Individuals that are more likely to suffer from depression are: unemployed or divorced
  • Depression is most prevalent in people aged 45-64

MRI Measures Brain Reactions and Emotions

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The study that was published in the American journal Proceedings of the national Academies of Science, measured the amygdala, part of the brain that generates emotions and examined:

  • Participants exposure to stress in early life through questionnaires
  • Brain reactions while patients were given photos of different facial expressions

Early Life Stress Impaired the Amygdala

Dr Mayuresh Korgaonkar noted:

“The patients who did not react as well to the happy faces […] were not responding well to antidepressants.”

He added, “early life stress has actually impaired their amygdala-and hence the reactivity to those happy faces are the ones who are not responding to antidepressants.”

The research showed how clinical assessments and sophisticated brain monitoring could help make clearer “decisions of who will respond, and who won’t to medications like antidepressants.”

The encouraging findings still need further investigations from more research and study samples but Korgonkar said, “it points the way to how we’ll be understanding and treating mental illness in the future.”

Treating Stigma

#IAMWHOLE campaign, part of the UK NHS service has been launched by one half of Brighton duo Rizzle Kicks to champion stigma around mental health.

Jordan Stephens has written a new track ‘Whole’ about mental health issues. He said:

“The #IAMWHOLE campaign message that ‘together we are whole’ is so important and I am pleased to be launching it today on World Mental Health Day.”

Persistent Discrimination Against Depressed

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Research points to evidence that those with psychosis are “viewed most negatively by the public,” making them the most highly stigmatized mental health group.

Another study in 2006 discovered that US employers are hesitant to hire people with a psychiatric history. This includes 70 percent of those who take anti-psychotic medication.

In past studies, respondents have perceived mentally ill people to be, “dangerous, dirty, unpredictable and worthless.”

These negative associations with mental illness and depression has led to some people increasing their social distance which only leads for those with the disorder to feel more isolated.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.