4 types of depression revealed by 1,100 brain scans

Brain scans of four different types of depression could help in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Four types of depression have recently been identified by researchers using brain scans.

Brain scans revealed distinct types of brain activity in each subtype.

The discovery may eventually lead to treatments targeting the specific subtype of depression.

Conor Liston, who led the research, said:

“The four subtypes of depression that we discovered vary in terms of their clinical symptoms, but more importantly, they differ in their responses to treatment. We can now predict with high precision whether or not a patient will respond to transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy, which is significant because it takes five weeks to find out if this type of treatment works ”.

The four different types of depression identified are:

  • Biotype 1  – Depression characterized by anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue.
  • Biotype 2  – Depression characterized by exhaustion and low energy consumption.
  • Biotype 3  – Depression characterized by an inability to feel pleasure , as well as slowed movements and speech.
  • Biotype 4  – Depression characterized mainly by anxiety with insomnia along with the inability to feel pleasure.

They are called “biotypes” because of the biological means (brain scans) used to identify them. Previously, symptoms were used to identify different types of depression .

But this can produce unsatisfactory responses. A biological approach is expected to help provide some extra precision for diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Liston said:

“Depression is typically diagnosed based on things that we are experiencing, but as with electoral voting, the results obtained depend a lot on how you ask the question. Brain scans are objective. ”

The findings come from a study of more than 1,100 brain scans of people with fMRI depression, compared to healthy controls. Researchers from seven different institutions worked to identify abnormal patterns of connectivity in the brain and how they were linked to depressive symptoms.

They found the grouped patterns. For example, one group had reduced connectivity in the part of the brain that is important for fear- related behavior . This was observed more frequently in subtypes 1 and 4, both characterized by high levels of anxiety.

Dr. Liston concluded:

“Subtyping is a big problem in psychiatry. It is not just a problem for depression, and it would be really valuable to have objective biological tests that can help diagnose subtypes of other mental illnesses, such as psychotic disorders , autism and substance abuse syndromes. ”


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