Doctors could potentially prevent depression before it even starts

01/26/2016 - 18:52

Lecia Bushak

Doctors may soon be able to spot the early signs of depression before people are afflicted with the mental health problem, according to new research out of MIT and Harvard Medical School.

In reviewing the brain scans of children who had family histories of depression, researchers were able to find specific brain differences and patterns in comparison to those who didn’t have depression or a risk of depression. Using this type of scan to find the brain differences in children could be a preventive mental health measure of sorts — especially for kids who have no family history or unknown risk of depression.


Ref: Altered Intrinsic Functional Brain Architecture in Children at Familial Risk of Major Depression. Biological Psychiatry (16 December 2015) | DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.12.003


Neuroimaging studies of patients with major depression have revealed abnormal intrinsic functional connectivity measured during the resting state in multiple distributed networks. However, it is unclear whether these findings reflect the state of major depression or reflect trait neurobiological underpinnings of risk for major depression.