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Anxiety is a common mental health issue that can be very disruptive to daily life. The current approach to treating anxiety is to talk to patients about how they feel and prescribe medication, but this approach can have negative side effects, and some drugs can be addictive. Plus, there's never absolute certainty in what treatment would work best for the patient's condition. All that has changed.
Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have developed a new blood test that can objectively determine a person's risk for developing anxiety, the severity of their current anxiety, and which therapies would work best for them.
The blood test checks for biomarkers in the blood to identify a patient's current state of anxiety and matches them with the right medications. By examining RNA biomarkers in the blood, researchers could see how effective different treatment options could be according to the patient's body system.
According to the researchers, this new blood test could help evaluate whether a person's anxiety would worsen over time, as well as how other factors like hormones might influence their anxiety.
The study involved having participants complete a blood test every 3-6 months or whenever a new psychiatric hospitalization occurred.
In combination with other blood tests like that of bipolar disorder, the new blood test for anxiety can be used to provide a more comprehensive view of a patient's current and future mental health concerns.
Of course, there are already several ways of managing anxiety. Talk about CBT, medications, and lifestyle changes. But the key thing about this blood test is that it may allow psychiatrists to objectively match patients with the treatment best suited for them. So instead of prescribing medication and CBT across the board, one may know which patient CBT would work best for, and which would be better off with a particular drug.
This will likely lead to better and faster positive outcomes when treating anxiety, which is good news for anyone currently suffering the mental health issue.
Also, the test could help predict whether one may experience anxiety in the future, says professor of psychiatry Alexander Niculescu, MD, Ph.D. So the blood test could be a part of anyone's routine "check up" procedure — to provide a comprehensive report of a patient's health using only one tube of blood.
And when we know who is at risk, we can better care for them. Prevention, indeed, is better than cure.
If this blood test is widely used by physicians, it could help many people who suffer from anxiety.
With an objective way to diagnose and treat anxiety, patients could avoid negative side effects and find the right treatment options that work best for them. This could be a huge step forward in the treatment of anxiety and could help many people who are currently suffering.