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    Six different types of depression have been identified: the problem is in the brain

    Ways found to personalize treatment for mental illness

    Recent advances in understanding depressive disorders are paving the way for personalized mental health medicine. A study conducted by researchers at Stanford University of Medicine identified six biological subtypes of depression using brain imaging and machine learning. This discovery promises to revolutionize the treatment of depression by tailoring it to the specific characteristics of each patient's brain.

    The scientific journal Nature Medicine published a study that identified six biotypes of depression by analyzing participants' brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging. This method measures brain activity both at rest and during cognitive and emotional tasks. This way researchers were able to determine which treatment methods are most effective.

    Leanne Williams, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, emphasizes the importance of this discovery. About 30 percent of people with depression have an untreatable condition, meaning that some medications or treatments do not improve their symptoms. In approximately two thirds of patients, drug treatment does not lead to complete recovery of mental health. Currently, antidepressants are prescribed through trial and error, which can take months or even years.

    To better understand the biology behind depression and anxiety, Leanne Williams and her team studied 801 participants who had been diagnosed with these disorders. Using machine learning, they identified six different patterns of brain activity. For example, patients with hyperactivity in cognitive domains responded better to an antidepressant, while patients with high activity in domains associated with depression and problem solving showed better results when receiving behavioral therapy.

    Psychiatrist Zhong Ma explains that this correlation between biotypes and therapeutic effect is consistent with current knowledge about these brain regions. It suggests that patients with low activity in attention areas may benefit from drug treatment before engaging in behavioral therapy.

    This study is the first to demonstrate that depression can be explained by various brain abnormalities. Leanne Williams and her team continue their research into new treatments, including alternative medications for depression.

    Psychiatrist Laura Hack is already using this treatment in her clinical practice. The goal is to set standards so that others can apply this method and improve treatment precision.

    To advance precision psychiatry, it is important to quickly determine the most effective treatments for each patient based on objective measures of brain function. This research promises to significantly improve treatment success rates and bring new hope to those suffering from depression.

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