Sunday, March 23, 2008

A glimpse of the future or modern snake oil?

The newest gimmick in the world of mental illness? At-home genetic testing kits claiming to diagnose bipolar disorder mailed to your doorstep for just $399.

While I am firmly optimistic that medical professionals will eventually be able to diagnose bipolar disorder with something more accurate than the current nebulous methodology, I don't think researchers are quite there yet. And because bipolar disorder actually describes a broad spectrum of behaviors and pathologies, a test like this is of limited utility because it inevitably has a high error rate, diagnosing only those genetic manifestations this one researcher has identified and leaving the rest undiagnosed.

Right now, this kind of thing is a waste of money. But in ten years, it might be the standard of care. Genetic research and diagnosis will revolutionize medicine in our lifetimes. We're just not there quite yet.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More like this!

Researchers are developing a blood test to determine whether or not antidepressant medications are working. For anyone who's waited 6-8 weeks for relief from depression only to have a medication fail, this is a fabulous development.