According to a new brain scan study that was published online in PLOS ONE, those people who are more susceptible to develop depression may benefit from getting medical care earlier.
The researchers of the study discovered that people who have a previous family history of different mood disorders also appear to have more activity in the insula cortex, which is the area in the brain that controls the mood. Some experts now believe that this new study may be able to assist medical professionals in getting these patients diagnosed faster, which could also help them begin treatment before the condition’s onset.
For this study, researchers at the University of Edinburgh analyzed data collected from healthy people who had a family history of mood disorders and compared these results with those who didn’t. For the study, researchers used brain scans and recorded the important medical information. What they found was that after two years of analyzing both groups, about a fifth of the “at-risk” group had actually developed major depression.
After the scans were studied, the at-risk group were found to have “abnormal levels of activity in the insula, even before they were diagnosed.”
For now, the researchers believe that his study could help doctors predict who will develop a mental illness in the future, including depression. Dr. Heather Whalley of the University of Edinburgh’s Division of Psychiatry said:
“These findings advance our understanding of the biological processes involved in the development of mood disorders. They show that increased activation in this part of the brain differentiates individuals at high-risk of bipolar disorder who later develop depression from healthy people and those at familial risk who remain well.”
Once depression is diagnosed, it is common for doctors to prescribe popular antidepressant like Paxil and Effexor to treat the condition. Both Paxil and Effexor are also known to cause serious side effects, which can include violent and suicidal thoughts and behaviors as well as birth defects in babies whose mothers take the drug while pregnant. Some of those defects include PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects and oral clefts.