A new MRI study published recently in the American Journal of Psychiatry examined the possibility of using MRI scans of of the brain to determine whether CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) or antidepressants would be the appropriate course of action for treating a patient’s depression.
The study, entitled Functional Connectivity of the Subcallosal Cingulate Complex and Differentiated Outcomes to Treatment with Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy or Antidepressant Medication for Major Depressive Disorder was performed by researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, GA.
Using a rating system called the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D), the researchers recruited 122 participants for the study, and had them undergo MRI brain scans before submitting to randomized treatment for depression (CBT or antidepressants for 12 weeks). “All depressions are not equal and, like different types of cancer, different types of depression will require specific treatments. Using these scans, we may be able to match a patient to the treatment that is most likely to help them, while avoiding treatments unlikely to provide benefit,” said lead author Dr. Helen Mayberg.
Of the 122 participants, a majority of them achieved remission at 10-12 weeks. 24 patients reported treatment failure, however, so more research needs to be done. The study authors concluded: “Imaging-based depression subtypes defined using resting-state functional connectivity differentially identified an individual’s probability of remission or treatment failure with first-line treatment options for major depression. This biomarker should be explored in future research through prospective testing and as a component of multivariate treatment prediction models.”