New blood test may help predict development of schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is one of the more perplexing mental illnesses, mainly because there is still so much about the condition that researchers are unaware of.
Schizophrenia is one of the more perplexing mental illnesses, mainly because there is still so much about the condition that researchers are unaware of. Effectively diagnosing schizophrenia is one of the premiere focuses in mental illness research, but while prescription medications such as Geodon continue to be a go-to source for relieving schizophrenic symptoms, there are still many questions when it comes to identifying developing traits of the disease. One study has potentially changed the landscape of how doctors diagnose schizophrenia in patients.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina have designed a new type of blood test that specifically focuses on detecting whether a patient has an increased risk of experiencing schizophrenia later in life. If this blood test could help doctors identify early symptoms of psychosis, one of the earliest signs of schizophrenia, it could step one of the biggest advancements in detection for a condition that's currently affecting around 1 in 100 Americans.
The new blood test was originally assessed by using psychiatric patients who were experiencing initial symptoms of schizophrenia, and were considered at a higher risk of developing psychosis. Essentially how the blood test worked was to uncover 15 measures of immune and hormonal system imbalances as well as to see if there were any elevated levels of oxidative stress in the blood.
The researchers worked together to implement more data analysis into the testing, specifically using bioinformatics algorithms to pick out specific substances in the blood for examination. Through extended trials, the team was able to spot biomarkers that, if continued to be confirmed through further research, might become a huge factor for identifying traces of psychosis risk, potentially helping future schizophrenics receive treatment sooner than ever before.
Dr. Clark D. Jeffries, a researcher at UNC and co-author in the study, talked about how rapidly progressing technology is allowing researchers to make strides in terms of detecting stages of schizophrenia earlier than ever before.
"Modern, computer-based methods can readily discover seemingly clear patterns from nonsensical data," Jeffries said in a statement. "Added to that, data from studies of complex disorders like schizophrenia can be confounded by many hidden dependencies. Thus, stringent testing is necessary to build a useful classifier. We did that."
Identifying psychosis early on
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, basic warning signs of someone experiencing psychosis include:
Experiencing psychosis for the first time can be extremely alarming and frightening for the individual.If you or someone you know is reporting cases of visual or auditory hallucination, or paranoid delusions that you know to be false, it's extremely important that you seek professional help right away to extensively evaluate the risk of mental disorder. The quicker you can seek help for treating episodes of psychosis, the more you eliminate the risk of schizophrenia progressing into a problem further down the road.