November 18, 2017 |
Scan Predicts if Meds or Therapy is Best for Depression
June 14, 2013  | 


Atlanta, GA - Pre-treatment scans of brain activity predicted whether depressed patients would best achieve remission with an antidepressant medication or psychotherapy, in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

 “Our goal is to develop reliable biomarkers that match an individual patient to the treatment option most likely to be successful, while also avoiding those that will be ineffective,” explained Helen Mayberg, M.D., of Emory University, Atlanta, a grantee of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health.

Mayberg and colleagues report on their findings in JAMA Psychiatry, June 12, 2013.

“For the treatment of mental disorders, brain imaging remains primarily a research tool, yet these results demonstrate how it may be on the cusp of aiding in clinical decision-making,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D.

Currently, determining whether a particular patient with depression would best respond to psychotherapy or medication is based on trial and error. In the absence of any objective guidance that could predict improvement, clinicians typically try a treatment that they, or the patient, prefer for a month or two to see if it works. Consequently, only about 40 percent of patients achieve remission following initial treatment. This is costly in terms of human suffering as well as health care spending.

Mayberg’s team hoped to identify a biomarker that could predict which type of treatment a patient would benefit from based on the state of his or her brain. Using a PET scanner, they imaged pre-treatment resting brain activity in 63 depressed patients. They compared brain circuit activity of patients who achieved remission following treatment with those who did not improve. Continue>

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