Biological markers could enable tailored therapies that target individual differences in symptoms.
most of the estimated 16 million U.S. adults who have reported a major depressive episode in the past year find little relief even after several months on antidepressants — a problem that some researchers say may stem from the way mental illness is diagnosed.
Objective lab tests can physically confirm heart disease or cancer but psychiatric conditions are classified somewhat vaguely as clusters of reported symptoms.
Doctors consider people clinically depressed if they say they have low mood and meet at least four additional criteria from an overall list of nine.
Yet depression can manifest differently from person to person: One might be putting on pounds and sleeping much of the time whereas another might be losing weight – feeling anxious and finding it difficult to sit still said Conor Liston – a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medicine.
‘The fact that we lump people together like this has been a big obstacle in understanding the neurobiology of depression’.