Brain scans may help predict treatment response for depression

Some one in five patients drop out of mental health-care treatment, often because their first treatment didn’t work. Is there a way to predict what will?

A growing number of psychologists and other scientists are using MRI, fMRI and PET on a quest to find out. Although it’s still in the very early stages, their research suggests that clinicians may one day be able to match patients to effective treatments and ease symptoms faster by using information from brain imaging, along with other biomarkers such as DNA and hormone levels.

“It’s possible that within our lifetimes you will go to your doctor’s office, give blood, and if it’s not prohibitively expensive, get an fMRI,” says Gabriel Dichter, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina. “We accept it as part of standard care of neurology and cancer care, so why not for mental health?” Read more