Blood test funded by the Pentagon can identify soldiers with PTSD with 80% accuracy, study finds
- Researchers identified 28 blood biomarkers that could indicate signs of PTSD
- Both veterans in whom PTSD was and were not diagnosed underwent the tests
- Blood test results were consistent with previous diagnoses with an accuracy of 77%
A simple blood test could be a more accurate way to diagnose active military members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a new study says.
Researchers say that biomarkers are produced in the body after a person has experienced a trauma and has difficulty managing the after effects – just like those of a soldier in a war zone.
When veterans with and without PTSD underwent the blood test, doctors were able to correctly diagnose the condition with nearly 80 percent accuracy.
The effort, funded by the Pentagon and led by New York University School of Medicine, points to a shift to diagnosing psychological problems with laboratory tests – like most medical fields – rather than by self-reporting
A new study led by NYU School of Medicine has shown that biomarkers are produced in the body after a soldier experiences trauma in a war zone and has difficulty managing the after effects (file image)
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is caused by an overactive anxiety memory and includes a wide range of psychological symptoms that can occur after a person has experienced a traumatic event.
About 70 percent of American adults – 223.4 million people – have experienced a kind of traumatic event at least once in their lives.
And an estimated eight percent of Americans, or 24.4 million people, have PTSD at any time.
Estimates vary, but the US Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) believes that as many as 20 percent of the veterans of the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan suffer from PTSD.
When it comes to Vietnam war veterans, the VA estimates that around 30 percent have experienced PTSD.
What's more, American veterans with PTSD are more than twice as likely as the general population to commit suicide.
& # 39; Although there is still work to be done to further validate our panel, it is a huge promise as the first blood test that can screen for PTSD with an accuracy level useful in the clinical setting & # 39; Dr. Charles Marmar Chairman of the Psychiatry Department at NYU School of Medicine.
& # 39; If we are successful, this test would be one of the first of its kind – an objective blood test for a serious psychiatric disorder. & # 39;
For the study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, the team recruited 83 veterans exposed to war zone diagnosed with PTSD and 82 veterans who were healthy controls.
Using molecular tests, researchers limited their biomarkers to 28 and all veterans had blood tests.
They then compared their results with diagnoses made prior to the study.
Researchers said the blood test accurately matched the clinical diagnosis 77 percent of the time.
& # 39; These molecular signatures will be further refined and adapted for commercialization & # 39 ;, said co-senior author Dr. Marti Jett, chief scientist in systems biology for the US Army Medical Research & Development Command.
& # 39; The Ministry of Health within the Ministry of Defense views this approach as a potential screening tool that can identify service members before and after deployment with characteristics of unresolved post-traumatic stress. & # 39;
If finally approved by the FDA, all soldiers returning from the fight would undergo the test, regardless of whether or not they reported suffering from PTSD.
If the tests are positive, the soldier is sent to a doctor or clinician for further analysis.
The team says the blood test can also be used for police officers, first responders and even the general population.
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