How will a blood test for depression change the treatment you receive?
If you are seeking treatment for depression, please note that the MoodMark® diagnostic is not yet publicly available. If you hope to participate in a future clinical trial, we appreciate and welcome your interest, and you can contact us here.
Until we are able to make our tests broadly accessible we encourage you to seek treatment using the traditional diagnostic and monitoring processes, even as we understand how the problems discussed below can make this more difficult.
How Are Patients Diagnosed With Depression?
With the existing lack of an accessible objective depression biomarker, a patient is currently given a diagnosis largely on the basis of 1-10 responses to a series of questions. The subjective interpretation of that survey, by both patient and provider, fails many patients, and groups of patients, who are less accustomed to describing their feelings in the manner of the survey.
At the individual level, the subjective variances determine the treatment, or lack thereof, that a human who needs help will receive. When one or two questions answered slightly differently on a numeric scale can so haphazardly land a patient on a different side of the survey's threshold, it's unsurprising that patients then often feel that their diagnoses of depression lack the medical validity of a diagnosis for a physical ailment received after a blood test.
MoodMark® will show patients that depression is not "only in their head", but an evident biological state.
How Are Treatment And Remission Measured?
When being treated for any illness, a patient benefits from a treatment goal. For depressed patients that goal is a Remission, but how do we mark that?
Currently this is done with the same surveys used for diagnosis, where all of the problems with the self-reporting in diagnosis and evaluation persist, and the patient is left with their own feelings to guess at whether the treatment was successful. This can lead to premature cessation, or it can lead to continuing a treatment with declining efficacy, long past the point where the drug has already done its job as well as it can.
For a condition where many struggle with setting goals, a quantifiable therapeutic marker of successful treatment will be transformative. All the things that the patient can do to help their treatment be effective require confidence that they will be worth the effort, at the very moment effort is hardest to summon.
When a patient receives the results of their MoodMark® blood test, and can compare to their previous results, they will be able to see how far they've come, and how far they have to go. When a provider can mark a patient's remission quantifiably, they can be clear about the treatment's success and make decisions without wrestling with the ambiguities of the patient's improvement.
How Is Withdrawal Monitored to Prevent Relapse?
Often the most challenging part of taking an anti-depressant is cessation. Whether the patient is coming off of a medication because it was not successful in treating the depression, or because the patient reached their therapeutic goal, new difficulties arise. Determining whether these difficulties are a temporary roadblock on the way to recovery, or indicate a return to a depressed state, is largely a guessing game. This mystery makes the end of even a successful treatment a time of fear, when it should be a time of hope.