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Blood test for bipolar disorder?


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I agree with you Bean - but you know, if they ask for my blood to figure this out a little better, I'd give it to 'em. I don't need a blood test to tell me that I'm friggin crazy ;) . On the flip side of creepy there's the positive feature of not having the current random methods to prove that you're truly disabled by a mental illness...you'd have the blood test to prove it!

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I can't find the original article, but news articles suggest the study was on discriminating mania vs. depression in bipolar patients, rather than detecting whether someone is bipolar or not. It's getting pitched in places as "could diagnose bipolar", whether through editorial misunderstanding or editorial desire to make the study look hotter than it is.

The blood test appears to tell whether bipolar people are high or low, but not HOW high or low - if it did, that would be a massive selling point. I don't know whether it can distinguish mania/depression from normal mood, or whether it can distinguish bipolar from non-bipolar. The researchers don't appear to have looked at either in this study.

It is pretty damn nifty and is likely to spark some very interesting followups and ethical questions.

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Resonance points out well that this is not really a test for bipolar disorder.

However, 3 years ago some folks at Harvard were able to correctly identify people with Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia correctly 80% of the time, from a mixed group of BP, SZ, and normal folks. They were using 3 genes.

Those three genes have been associated with both BP and SZ. Unfortunately at the time the researchers could not discriminate between BP and SZ.

Verifiable medical tests are coming, and I will welcome them. It will eliminate a lot of fear, worry and guesswork on the part of Pdocs and Tdocs and patients.

a.m.

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you're right res - the original research was looking at genes or biomarkers that would show the severity of mania or depression in already dx'd bipolar people - but the scientist quoted in the article says they anticipate they can use these same genes or biomarkers to develop a test to dx bipolar.

i have mixed feelings about it. there've been times i've felt like it'd be a huge help and relief to have a definitive test, something i could point to and show doubting family or friends (or even myself when i'm feeling like i'm not really that sick, and maybe i should just ditch all these meds...)

but a valid point they make in the article (which is admittedly pretty dumbed-down for general consumption) is what about when your subjective experience of the disorder is at odds with the test? given the unique nature of mental illnesses - that we experience them through our senses and thoughts and moods - isn't this inevitable? will mental illness eventually be able to be nailed down in the way, say, cancer is? (the tumor shrunk by this much or the level of ca125 in the blood test increased by this much or whatever.) given the nature of mental illness, what could we measure to provide that level of certainty? i'd be interested to hear more of your thoughts on this, am, as a more science-educated person than i am.

and confused - thanks for directing me to the other post too - i hadn't seen that one when i posted this.

bean

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Well, a physical test for MI wouldn't be any different than the tests for Prostate Antigen or for Breast Cancer. You can have positive results and have no other indications of the cancer developing or spreading. The treatments is "Watchful waiting". Same thing with Tuberculosis skin tests. exactly the same.

If you aren't experiencing problems functioning in your personal life, then you don't need any treatment. period.

And someone who isn't having MI problems isn't likely to see a psychiatriast for any reason.

a.m.

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