In the USA alone, some reports estimate that approximately 20% of the population suffer from depression. Not all of those who suffer from depression seek help. Some are experiencing mild depression, whether over a matter of a few weeks, several months or years. They consider the way they feel to be simply 'down' or generally unhappy with their present 'lot'.
If you feel that I have just described how you have been feeling, please seek help from your doctor or health physician. Mild depression can be very hard to diagnose and it is often accounts from patients that lead to diagnosis. Once diagnosed, your doctor may consider treating your depression with antidepressant / anti-anxiety drugs. With so many of these drugs available (more than 20 on the market) it can be very difficult for doctors to find a drug or combination of drugs that will work effectively in relieving the symptoms of depression. "Not every antidepressant is going to work well for each individual," says Dr. Andrew Leuchter a Psychiatrist at UCLA School of Medicine in Los Angeles.
For those that are severely depressed and have sought help a new study may be able, in the future, to help predict which drugs would best suit their needs. Figures suggest that approximately only 30% of patients will respond to the first drug they try.
Now however, there has been a breakthrough in being able to predict which medication will best suit a patient. Doctors are now able to discover which drugs a patient will respond to best, right from the start. "The challenge we face is trying to get patients on the right medicine quickly and get them to stay with the medicine long enough to get well," says Dr. Leuchter.
This newly applied technology may be the answer. It is a ten minute test that measures brain wave activity. Clinical trials involved testing a patient before and after starting new treatment. "If they show the right signal, we can say with a pretty good degree of certainty, you know, that is the right medication," says Dr. Leuchter. The test is able to indicate with an 85% accuracy whether patients will respond to a drug within one week of taking it.
Doctor Leucher is hoping that the FDA will approve the test for use within four years. The tests one advantage is that it is very inexpensive and easy to administer. Tests on the technology are continuing at ten different sites around the USA.