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Science Technology

Anxiety Disorders Discoverable by Blood Test 407

Tomer Yaffe writes to tell us that researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem have discovered a technique to diagnose anxiety disorders with a simple blood test. From the article: "The researchers hope that the anxiety blood test will soon make its way into hospitals and E.R. rooms and give doctors and psychiatrists a quick and precise tool for examining, and eventually treating, these disorders." The team has also set their sights on depression, hoping for a similar technique to detect these types of disorders as well.
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Anxiety Disorders Discoverable by Blood Test

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  • As a psych student (Score:5, Informative)

    by kaosrain ( 543532 ) <[moc.niarsoak] [ta] [toor]> on Monday October 10, 2005 @05:07PM (#13759440) Homepage
    As a psych student planning on specializing in anxiety/depression, this is great news. A blood test would make it a lot easier for people to acknowledge that they have an anxiety disorder. Currently one of the greatest challenges a psychologist faces in these disorders is getting the patient to see that they really do have one and it is impacting them negatively.
  • by hvatum ( 592775 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @05:15PM (#13759506) Homepage
    This blood test could also help increase the appropriate perscription of scheduled anti-anxiety medications such as Valium. These Benzodiazepines are clinically the most effective treatment for anxiety but many doctors shy away from perscribing them due to their addictive potential for some drug users.

    By proving beyond all doubt the existence of an anxiety disorder this blood test could allow doctors to perscribe such medications without fear of having their license revoked for the over-perscription of a scheduled drug.
  • Re:As a psychologist (Score:5, Informative)

    by kaosrain ( 543532 ) <[moc.niarsoak] [ta] [toor]> on Monday October 10, 2005 @05:26PM (#13759594) Homepage
    It depends on the patient. In my opinion, benzodiazepines should NOT be used for long term treatment (anything longer than 2 weeks or so). What I've observed to be most effective is beginning an SSRI (or in some cases SNRI), and if needed using a benzodiazepine to control the symptoms/side effects until the S(S/N)RI has stablized. Then Cognitive Behavioral Therapy while the patient is on the anti-depressants, and then slowly taking them off of the antidepressants.
  • by fyrie ( 604735 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @05:32PM (#13759629)
    Anxiety disorders are typically "ruled in" after doing all sorts of tests first to look for other serious medical issues that may cause similar symptoms. Having an MRI's and seeing a neurologist, visiting an E.N.T., and visiting a cardiologist can often be the path taken before a Dr. rules in an anxiety disorder (unless of course it's totally obvious, which it isn't a lot of the time).
  • by samael ( 12612 ) <> on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:08PM (#13759894) Homepage
    Only people who aren't coping would be even tested, let alone treated. Nobody is talking about mandatory treatment of anyone.
  • Re:Research Purposes (Score:4, Informative)

    by NoData ( 9132 ) < minus author> on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:13PM (#13759933)
    For example, if I had the money, I would love to finance a study to see how effective relaxation techniques (TM, Yoga, other breathing exercises, exercise...) are in reducing anxiety.

    Look at the research of Jon Kabat-Zinn. Here's an example [].
  • by SteveAyre ( 209812 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:46PM (#13760129)
    Actually I think they were refering to needle phobias. My girlfriend has one.

    It's nothing to do with *what* is being injected/taken out. It is the sight of the syringe or needle. She cannot watch anyone else having one done without feeling sick and used to be unable to even look at a photo of a syringe on its own.

    As far as having an injection, such as for a vaccination she gets hysterical and loses control. In the past several people have had to pin her down while she has the injection.

    I have always thought the extra trauma of this probably just makes matters worse. Giving her a temporary anesthetic which lasts only a minute or so would be far nicer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @07:07PM (#13760235)

    This is 100% correct. I suffer from Paranoid Personality Disorder mixed in with anxiety and there is an inherent component of the "disorder" that would keep you from getting help in the first place. Some number of people with true paranoia or strong enough anxiety would not want to contact anyone for help in the first place.

    Yeah. I recently entered therapy for SAD (or 'social phobia'), OCD, and apparently depression, and in particular the anxiety (and to a lesser degree the depression) is what kept me from getting treatment years ago. It's hard to get help when you have a phobia about rejection, authority figures, strangers, public places, et cetera. I imagine it works similarly for other disorders.

  • Re:Screening (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wizarth ( 785742 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @07:26PM (#13760340) Homepage
    This is modded funny, but should be considered insightful.
  • by almound ( 552970 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @08:03PM (#13760530) Homepage
    How convenient that a "simple blood test" has been found to test for such subjective mental states as anxiety disorders and depression. The President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health [] "recommends" psychological testing for all Americans, and wants to ensure by law that every school-age child has been offered such an exam.

    History time and again records governments continually abusing the power accorded by such sweeping initiatives, interpreted as mandates by sycophantic minions. Why should modern government be any different?

    The real questions are: Who determines what is to be considered a mental illness? Which authorities control who is tested for mental illness and how? What will be done to the mentally ill under the aegis of treatment? Who stands to profit from it all?

    The Columbia University TeenScreen Program [] is the pilot program mentioned in the report as the model program to administer such a CBT test. Their pilot test is already being given to kids in at least 27 states, in at least 69 schools.

    At the Teenscreen website, under the "Setting The Record Straight About TeenScreen" page, the group argues that the language in the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, couched in terms of "universal screening" does not mean "mandatory screening."

    Yes, Teenscreen does not advocate forced psychological testing at their website. However, Teenscreen can only vouchsafe for itself.

    Teenscreen may indeed be an organization of integrity; the question is not how are the recommendations of the President's Commission being tested, but what will be the future of the initiative advocated!

    Governments do not have a good track record being trusted to endorse and administer psychological testing of the citizenry. More than plaintive appeals as to Teenscreen's integrity are needed to dispell the fact that governments in both the distant and recent past have used official definitions of "mental health" as a means to control, imprison and torture citizens. The more wide-spread such programs become, the more likely they will be used nefariously. American forms of eugenics [] are alive and well.

    Teenscreen cannot speak for the aims of government, nor for what government does with the information once it is collected by organizations such as Teenscreen. Presumeably such information will be subject to government review.

    With the acknowledged surveillance of all network communications by Navy operations [] it is doubtful that client-professional privilege could be maintained, even if private organizations were to retain some semblance of separation between their testing of individuals in public settings and the government's pervasive snooping.

    For more, see:

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