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How Doctors Are Using Brain Imaging to Treat Depression

By Himanshu Agarwal | February 2, 2018

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Typically, depression is diagnosed based on what a patient describes about their emotional and mental state. People who suffer from depression often state that they’re sad more often than not and that things they used to enjoy are no longer enjoyable.

The biggest hurdle in diagnosing depression is overcoming the stigma and embarrassment of possibly having a mental health disorder. It’s hard to talk about such raw, emotional, and personal details. Another issue is the fact that depression manifests itself in different ways. Some patients stop eating, others gain weight and suffer from anxiety. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to depression symptoms.

While there aren’t many biological indicators that can be used to diagnose someone with depression, brain imaging has proven to be useful in diagnosing and helping to shape a treatment plan.

What Does Brain Imaging Show?

A recent study that was published in Nature Medicine discuss biological markers that can be used to distinguish different types of depression. To get a better look at the brain, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure the connection strength between the brain and neural circuits. From these images researchers were able to pinpoint four types of depression.

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