Urine Test Could Diagnose Depression, Anxiety | American Council on Science and Health – By Alex Berezow — September 29, 2018
This seems like a hugely significant discovery that could save the healthcare system a lot of money treating people for suspected mental disorders when there is not psychological problem at all.
Depression and anxiety are not always easy to detect. The obvious symptoms, such as persistent sadness or worry, may not be present.
Instead, a person may exhibit insidious symptoms, like chronic indecision or excessive sleepiness. Diagnosis usually requires a psychologist. Besides being time consuming and inconvenient, diagnostic criteria are rather subjective.
Now, a team of Chinese researchers believe they have discovered one using a urine test. Their results are reported in the journal Translational Psychiatry.
I worry that just like with brain imaging for pain, my own feelings of misery would be discounted if the urine test doesn’t back me up. (See Neuroimaging for Chronic Pain: IASP Consensus Statement)
With such a new method, who knows what other factors might play a significant part. Before using this in clinical practice, I’d like to see that it worked for thousands of people, not just these samples of a few dozen.
The researchers began by collecting urine samples from 32 patients suffering from depression and anxiety and from 32 healthy controls who were matched according to age, sex, and body mass index.
The urine was analyzed using standard chemistry techniques to determine if differences in the concentrations of various metabolites could be used to discriminate healthy people from patients with depression/anxiety. Indeed, the data showed that they could.
The next step was to validate their model with more samples. So, the authors collected urine from another 16 healthy controls and 16 patients with depression/anxiety, and they did their analysis again.
Once again, their ability to discriminate healthy people from patients with depression/anxiety — using only metabolites detected in urine samples — was confirmed.
All 16 patients with depression/anxiety were correctly identified, while 13 of 16 healthy controls were properly identified.
For a test like this to be of any practical use in the laboratory, it cannot test dozens of metabolites. So, the authors narrowed down their list of metabolites to just four:
- aminomalonic acid,
- azelaic acid and
- hippuric acid.
Using just these four metabolites, the authors had a predictive accuracy of 90% in the validation data set of 32 individuals.
Source: Jian-jun Chen, Shun-Jie Bai, Wen-wen Li, Chan-juan Zhou, Peng Zheng, Liang Fang, Hai-yang Wang, Yi-yun Liu & Peng Xie. “Urinary biomarker panel for diagnosing patients with depression and anxiety disorders.” Translational Psychiatry 8, Article number: 192. Published: 19-Sept-2018. doi: 10.1038/s41398-018-0245-0