First physiological test for schizophrenia and depression

Doctors could be a step closer to having an accurate diagnostic test for depression and schizophrenia.

Researchers in America infused patients with a high-concentration salt solution to induce the release of a hormone, known as arginine-vasopressin (AVP). They then measured the level of the hormone in the participants’ blood.

Depressed patients showed an increased release of the hormone while patients with schizophrenia showed a decreased response.

“This is the first objective, physiological marker for two major psychiatric disorders that, once fully developed into a clinical test, can allow for earlier and more accurate diagnosis, and selection of more appropriate medications for patients,” says study co-author Handan Gunduz-Bruce from Yale University.

Depression is thought to affect over 300 million people worldwide and schizophrenia affects as many as 51 million people. Both diseases have severe impacts on sufferers’ lives.

The research findings were first reported by Experimental Physiology.