A trailblazing new study has helped develop a blood test to find a person’s risk of developing anxiety, as well as its current severity.
The test can also predict if a person is likely to get more anxious in the future and how other factors, such as changes in hormones, might influence anxiety.
After being validated by a team of researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine, the blood test is already being created by the startup MindX Sciences for clinical use, ScienceAlert reported.
“Many people are suffering from anxiety, which can be very disabling and interfere with daily life,” said psychiatric neuroscientist Alexander Niculescu from Indiana University School of Medicine, as per the outlet.
“[H]aving something objective like this where we can know what someone’s current state is as well as their future risk and what treatment options match their profile is very powerful in helping people,” Niculescu added.
In the study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the research team recruited patients at the Indianapolis VA Medical Center to correlate anxiety levels and identify specific blood biomarkers associated with the mental issue. From the study, researchers found 19 blood biomarkers that can be used to foretell changes in anxiety.
Testing blood samples is a convenient, cheaper, and easier method to diagnose problems within the body.
“The current approach is to talk to people about how they feel to see if they could be on medications, but some medications can be addictive and create more problems,” Niculescu explained.
“We wanted to see if our approach to identify blood biomarkers could help us match people to existing medications that will work better and could be a non-addictive choice,” the researcher added.
The test can also predict future anxiety issues. It all comes down to identifying biomarkers associated with anxiety. This might hopefully be helpful in preventing anxiety disorders before they begin or return.
“There are people who have anxiety and it is not properly diagnosed, then they have panic attacks, but think they’re having a heart attack and end up in the ER with all sorts of physical symptoms,” Niculescu commented. “If we can know that earlier, then we can hopefully avoid this pain and suffering and treat them earlier with something that matches their profile.”
More importantly, researchers highlighted the fact that not all patients respond well to current treatments, which is a testament to the significance of finding new and better treatments.
The research team is hopeful that the new blood biomarker tests identified by them will help align patients with the right medications, find the efficacy of the drugs, and find ways to reuse old drugs.
“This is something that could be a panel test as part of a patient’s regular wellness visits to evaluate their mental health over time and prevent any future distress,” Niculescu said. “Prevention is better in the long run.”