26 August, 2008

Depression: A Biochemical Process

With depression making rounds in the society in a grand manner, scientists may be on the verge of discovering a bio-chemical indicator for the assessment of depression. A condition which hitherto was diagnosed solely on the subjective opinion of a practitioner may now have a ‘lab test’ to determine the severity of the condition as well as the effect of different treatments and therapies on a particular patient.

Scientists at the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois suggest that depression involves a bio-chemical process wherein the brain releases specific substances which can be detected by laboratory tests. The researchers conducted a post–mortem study of depressed people who committed suicide and compared their findings to that of normal people. They established that a certain protein called Gs alpha which relays information between the brain cells and the neuro-transmitters seemed to have been less effective in depressive people.

One of the main concerns faced by psychiatrists while treating a patient with anti-depressants is the unpredictability of the drug’s effect. Rasenick and his team are hopeful that this proposed technique would significantly step up the efficacy and quality of management of depressive disorders.

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