Depression is a mental illness that only manifests itself with physical symptoms in some cases. So a large number of people with the illness don’t appear to be sick, contributing to the stigma around depression.
But a new brain scan that can be used to identify and diagnose depression in patients may be able to change that, according to a study from the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Since there are no biological ways to measure depression currently the best way to diagnose it is through expression of emotion, something some people may be embarrassed, afraid or incapable of doing. A brain scan offers new ways to help patients who have a hard time articulating the distress they’re experiencing.
A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry details a case in which MRI scans were used to identify depression in patients. Those experiencing depression showed the same patterns of white and grey matter in the brain at a high rate, enough that it could be used as means for diagnosis.
The healthy, or control, patients lacked the same patterns the patients experiencing depression presented. The study had 43 participants from a wide ethnic background and the patients had a mean age of 39.