Brain Scan Can Help Predict Antidepressant Efficacy
> 5/22/2007 10:48:05 AM

One of the real challenges in treating depression can be finding the right prescription for each patient. Once a physician and client have decided that antidepressants will be useful in the treatment process, they must then begin to identify which of the nearly 20 FDA approved antidpressant compounds will be best for that particular case. Failing to find the right prescription can lead to negative side-effects or ineffective results, which can in turn lead to failure to maintain a medication regimen and, therefore, no improvement with regards to symptoms. Many antidepressants also take several weeks to begin working, so wasted time can come at a premium for those who are suffering.

Enter Dr. Andrew Leuchter of UCLA, who has been at work on creating brain scanning technology that will help determine which antidepressants will be of the most benefit to individual depression sufferers. As reported by New Scientist, Leuchter presented new information regarding his research to the American Psychiatric Association at their annual meeting this week. For several years, Leuchter and his colleagues have focused on the pre-frontal lobe, where research has shown that antidepressants change brain activity before clinical response to the medication occurs.

What Leuchter presented this week was a smaller more manageable version of the system that other studies have found to be effective. By reducing the time and expertise necessary to acquire a usable frontal quantitative electroencephalography, or fqEEG, reading Leuthcer and his team have bettered a system that already showed promise. Instead of a 90 minute procedure involving lengthy setup, this new design requires only 15 minutes for a reading. That way, physicians could theoretically schedule medication management follow-up appointments only a week or two after starting a new prescription to get a sense of whether or not the antidepressant will be effective even before symptoms have begun to abate.

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