Roughly 1% of people have bipolar disorder (BD), however, the condition is commonly misdiagnosed; 40% of BD patients are initially given the wrong diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD), which affects up to 80 million people worldwide. Overlapping symptoms may explain this, the inclination of patients to seek care during manic rather than depressed periods, and the subjective character of psychiatric assessments of symptoms that patients report on their own.
One possible method for addressing these issues and facilitating an earlier and more objective differential diagnosis of mood disorders is biomarker profiling. By identifying biomarkers linked to bipolar disorder using a straightforward blood test, researchers have improved the diagnosis of the condition.
About the Study:
The University of Cambridge researchers; Jakub Tomasik, Sabine Bahn, Scott J. Harrison, Nitin Rustogi, Giles Barton-Owen, Tony Olmert, Sung Yeon Sarah Han, Jason D. Cooper, Paweł Eljasz, Lynn P. Farrag, Lauren V. Friend, Emily Bell and Dan Cowell published a study in JAMA Psychiatry in which they recognised patients with bipolar disorder, many of whom had been mistakenly labelled with major depressive disorder, using a combination of an online psychiatric evaluation and blood test.
The Delta experiment, conducted in the UK between 2018 and 2020, provided samples and data that the researchers used to diagnose bipolar disorder patients who had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder during the preceding five years and who were now experiencing symptoms of depression. Through voluntary response sampling, participants were gathered online.
A total of 3000 participants were enlisted, and each one answered over 600 questions in an online mental health evaluation. A variety of subjects that may be related to mental health disorders were included in the assessment, such as family history, substance misuse, manic symptoms, generalised anxiety, and previous or present depressive episodes.
Approximately one thousand of the individuals who finished the online test were chosen to submit a dried blood sample obtained from a basic finger prick. Mass spectrometry was utilised by the researchers to screen this sample for over 600 different metabolites. 241 participants were enrolled in the study after completing the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, a completely organised and validated diagnostic instrument to establish diagnoses of mood disorders.
Up to 30% of people with bipolar disorder may be diagnosed by blood test alone, according to the researchers. Still, the test is even more successful when paired with a computerised mental health evaluation. Using biomarker testing could aid medical professionals in distinguishing between bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder, which share symptoms but require distinct pharmacological interventions.
Researchers discovered that the biomarker test plus patient-reported data greatly enhanced bipolar disorder diagnosis outcomes, particularly in cases where the condition was difficult to diagnose.
Words from Authors:
Dr Jakub Tomasik of Cambridge’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology stated, “Psychiatric assessments are extremely efficient, but being capable of diagnosing bipolar disorder with a simple blood test might make sure that patients get the right treatment for the very first time and reduce some of the difficulties on medical professionals.”
Tomasik continued, “Mental health issues have a biological cause, and it’s important for patients to know it’s not in their mind. It’s a disease that impacts the body in the same way as others.”
The research’s principal investigator, Professor Sabine Bahn, said that “to a physician, somebody with bipolar disorder undergoing a period of low mood can look very resembling someone with major depressive disorder. But the two conditions require different treatment; antidepressant prescriptions alone without a mood stabiliser can set off a manic episode in a bipolar person.”
Bahn Continued, “The biomarker test is substantially faster and works well overall, but the online evaluation was more effective. It would be best to combine the two approaches, as they complement each other.”