Testing which antidepressant works best

    About one in ten Americans take antidepressants – and many of them spend weeks of trial and error before finding the medication that works best for them. New scientific findings could speed up the search for the right drug.

    About one in ten Americans take antidepressants – and many of them spend weeks of trial and error before finding the medication that works best for them. New scientific findings could speed up the search for the right drug.
    (Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/myguerrilla/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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    [audio:090914msbrain.mp3]

    A nationwide study used brain imaging to test patients’ response to an anti-depressant one week after they started taking it.
    Scientists were able to accurately predict their response in 74-percent of the cases.

    John O’Reardon is a psychiatrist with the University of Pennsylvania. He says right now, only time can tell if a certain medication will work for a patient – a process that can take several weeks

    O’Reardon: We might be able to get more sophisticated here in terms of telling us are we on the right track or not and obviously, the sooner the better for all concerned.

    Ausim Azizi is professor of neurology at Temple University. He says this kind of test would be helpful – but is difficult to evaluate:

    Azizi: It requires a relatively high level of training even for a neurologist or a psychiatrist to actually get this working, so from a practical perspective that maybe a little bit difficult, the logistics of applications of this over a wide area.

    Azizi says it could take years before this kind of test will be administered routinely.

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