Saturday, March 22, 2008
A Simple Test
I was very interested last week to read this article about the discovery of a biomarker for depression. The discovery means that fairly soon, it may be possible to diagnose depression with a simple blood test, and also to determine if a given antidepressant was working. Many antidepressants take weeks to make people feel better, but the blood test would let doctors know long before that if the medicine was going to make the patient feel better.
As a depression patient, I'm delighted by this news. It will make diagnosis and treatment simpler and faster, and it should also quiet the nay-sayers who insist that depression is a character flaw rather than a physical illness. If this test had been available when I was first given a depression diagnosis, I wouldn't have had to listen to a dear friend say briskly, "You're not depressed. You're just lazy."
But then I thought further. I believe my current meds are working, which means that if I took the test today, the results would presumably be normal. I'd have to go off meds to find out if I really have depression. And what if those results were normal then, too? What if Science-With-a-Capital-S informed me that I don't actually have a physical illness, that I really am just lazy, malingering, or suffering from wrongthink?
Many people will rejoice at the advent of this test, but I wonder if anyone else is a little nervous about it.