Brain scans predict best depression treatment
It can be difficult to determine if therapy or medication is the best treatment for a person diagnosed with depression. Today, that choice is based largely on trial and error; consequently, only about 40 percent of patients achieve success with their initial treatment.
But new research funded by the National Institutes of Health may have found a method for predicting which approach may work best for an individual—brain scans. In a study of 63 depressed patients, the researchers used a PET scanner to image the parts of the brain that were active at a given moment. They compared the brain circuit activity of patients who achieved remission after treatment to those who did not have success. .
What they found was that activity in one area of the brain – the insula – could define which treatment is best. If brain activity is low in this area, cognitive behavior therapy may be more effective, while hyperactivity in the insula appears to respond better to escitalopram, a type of SSRI antidepressant.
If these findings can be duplicated, the use of brain scans could significantly change how depression is treated.