Blood Test to Diagnose Depression

Cholesterol, cancer, even infectious diseases- your blood can help doctors detect them all.

Now, blood is being used to figure out what's going on inside your head.

It affects 15 million Americans and impacts women twice as much as men.

Angel Schwiefert was diagnosed with depression, also known as major depressive disorder, a few years ago.  She tried three different anti-depressants.

Angel Schwiefert says, "We really couldn't get the dosages right or the right medications."

Dr. James Smith says, "I worry that these meds are thrown at folks."

Psychiatrist Doctor James Smith says with a wide variety of symptoms, diagnosing depression and getting patients the right treatment can mean a lot of trial and error. 

Dr. Smith says,  "Piecing it all together can be a bit of a challenge."

Blood work could now take out some of the guess work.  MDD Score is the first blood test to assist in the diagnosis of depression.  With a routine blood draw, it measures nine biomarkers and ranks a person's likelihood of having the conditiion from one to nine.  The higher the score the higher the chance of depression.

Dr. Smith: "I see it as extremely accurate."

In studies funded by the test maker, MDD Score was more than 90% accurate in catching depression.

Dr. Smith: "MDDScore more than anything else has given me an opportunity to hit it right on the nose."

But Duke Psychiatrist Doctor Harold G. Koenig has some concerns.

Doctor Koenig says, "False positives and false negatives, people who are diagnosed with depression with this test who don't have depression, or missing the depression potentially in someone who really has it who wouldn't get the treatment."

Angel scored high on the blood test.

Angel says, "I was totally surprised."

She says her Psychiatrist upped the dosage of her anti-depressant from 37.5 to 375 milligrams a day.

Today, Angel's getting back to her favorite pre-depression hobby and believes MDD Score helped her get the life-changing treatment she needed.

Right now MDD Score is available in most states.

Company officials say it should be available nationwide by the end of the year.

While skeptical about the blood test, Doctor Koenig says it could be helpful in diagnosing major depression, but moree studies are needed before he is convinced.

For more information on the test go to---->

BACKGROUND:    Depression goes beyond feeling sad.  It is a serious medical illness that affects a patient's thoughts, behavior, mood, feelings, and physical health.  It is a life-long condition where patients experience periods of wellness with recurrences of illness.  Every year depression affects five to eight percent of adults in the United States.  Major depression, also known as clinical depression, and chronic depression, called dysthymia, are the two most common types.  However, there are other types that have unique signs, symptoms, and treatment. (Source:

TYPES/SYMPTOMS:  Major depressive disorder is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person's ability to sleep, work, study, and eat.  An episode of clinical depression can occur only once in a person's life, but it also can reoccur throughout a person's life.  Chronic depression is characterized by a long-term (two or more years) depressed mood.  It is less severe than major depression and does not typically disable the person.  Atypical, or regular, depression's symptoms tend to be marked by pervasive sadness and a pattern of loss of appetite and difficulty falling or staying asleep.  Although overeating, oversleeping, fatigue, extreme sensitivity to rejection, and moods that worsen are other symptoms associated with atypical depression.  Seasonal depression is depression that occurs every year at the same time.  It usually starts in the fall or winter and ends in the spring or summer.  Psychotic depression's symptoms include delusional thoughts or other symptoms related with reality.  Finally, postpartum depression is diagnosed when a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after they deliver the baby.  It affects one in ten moms.  (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY:  There are numerous depression treatments available.  Medications and psychological counseling are very effective for many people.  However, often depression is misdiagnosed and depression can have a wide variety of symptoms.  So, diagnosing depression and getting the right treatment for patients can mean a lot of experimentation.  The MDDScore is a simple blood test that can aid in the diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD).  It looks at a combination of biochemicals from four different biological pathways in the body.  The blood levels of the individual body chemicals are measured and then entered into a mathematical equation to obtain a single test score.  The score then represents a person's likelihood of having MDD.  The MDDScore is not meant to replace traditional interview methods, but it is meant to add an unbiased element that compliments the patient interview.  The benefits of a MDDScore include: it provides biological evidence to support a diagnosis, increases confidence and acceptance in the diagnosis, helps the patient and their loved ones better understand their medical condition, and it empowers the patient to accept and manage the disorder.  Most insurance companies are reimbursing for the test.  (Source:

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James A. Smith, III, MD
Medical Director
Carolina Partners in Mental Health Care, PLLC

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