According to information from a new study that was published in JAMA Psychiatry, neuroimaging might be a good predictor as to the best initial depression treatment for patients. The study’s authors state that current prescriptions used to treat depression patients basically are prescribed via a trial-and-error method of determination by the doctors. But this method has proven to be dangerous — even potentially life-threatening to some patients. This new study may help to reduce the amount of injuries suffered by patients suffering from depression.
The study’s authors have estimated that about 40 percent of newly-diagnosed patients suffering from depression are more likely to respond best to their treatments or even experience a remission of symptoms within the initial treatment given (if at all). It is for this reason that researchers sought to find the best predictor tool possible by locating a “biomarker that could predict which type of treatment would be best for individual patients.” Using “positron emission tomography, they measured brain glucose metabolism in 65 clinically-depressed patients who either underwent 12 weeks of psychotherapy or took the antidepressant escitalopram. The patients were men and women between the ages of 18 and 60 who had not been treated for the disorder yet.”
The PET results showed that when the patient’s activity in the brain was lower before the treatment, the patient was more likely to experience the total remission of symptoms. The patients who had high brain activity in the same area were more likely to respond better to antidepressant medications like Paxil or Effexor. But Paxil and Effexor are both in a class of antidepressants called SSRIs, which have long been the subject of numerous studies that sought to test their efficacy and safety. In fact, Paxil and Effexor have been known to cause patients to suffer from violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior as well as lead to birth defects in babies born to mothers who take the pills while pregnant. The birth defects linked to Paxil and Effexor use include PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects, oral clefts and heart, lung and brain defects.