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Anxiety Disorders Discoverable by Blood Test

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the anxiously-awaiting-results dept.

Science 407

Tomer Yaffe writes to tell us that researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem have discovered a technique to diagnose anxiety disorders with a simple blood test. From the article: "The researchers hope that the anxiety blood test will soon make its way into hospitals and E.R. rooms and give doctors and psychiatrists a quick and precise tool for examining, and eventually treating, these disorders." The team has also set their sights on depression, hoping for a similar technique to detect these types of disorders as well.

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407 comments

What if their anxiety disorders involve needles? (5, Funny)

glen604 (750214) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759437)

then they'd be really screwed..

Stop squirming away from the needle! We need to run this test on you!

Re:What if their anxiety disorders involve needles (5, Funny)

Hey Pope Felcher . . (921019) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759446)

. . . in that case the test would be fairly conclusive.

Re:What if their anxiety disorders involve needles (1)

kaosrain (543532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759473)

In that case you can either give them an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety agent such as alprazolam [Xanax]), or "put them under"--although I would expect that in all but the strongest cases a benzodiazepine would work well enough.

Re:What if their anxiety disorders involve needles (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759513)

In all seriousness, that _is_ a potential source of bias in studies of psychiatric conditions. There definitely is a skewing away from patients with symptoms (anxiety, paranoia) that make them reluctant to consent to blood draws or DNA collection.

Re:What if their anxiety disorders involve needles (2, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759650)

This actually reminds me a bit of the home headache test [jt.org] .

Wife: "Oh, God, I'm in agony!"
Husband (holding strip): "Honey, you don't have a headache."
Wife: "Oh, thank God!"

I'm anxious about (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759438)

writing the FP

YOU SHOULD BE FEELING DEPRESSED NOW.... (1)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759664)

...BECAUSE YOU FAILED IT.

As a psych student (4, Informative)

kaosrain (543532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759440)

As a psych student planning on specializing in anxiety/depression, this is great news. A blood test would make it a lot easier for people to acknowledge that they have an anxiety disorder. Currently one of the greatest challenges a psychologist faces in these disorders is getting the patient to see that they really do have one and it is impacting them negatively.

As a psychologist (0, Flamebait)

Frothy Walrus (534163) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759470)

I find this attitude to be the singlemost prevalent misconception in the field today. In my studied opinion it is far better for the chemical/physical causes of mental illness to be hidden safely away from the subject. The patient should understand that their problem stems from within themselves, not from generations of malignant genes. This places the burden and yoke of recovery squarely on their shoulders, where it belongs.

Re:As a psychologist (4, Insightful)

kaosrain (543532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759500)

I disagree. While I feel that recovery should be placed upon the patient, it is important to let them know that they are not responsible for causing the disorder. My significant other was extremely bothered and felt that she was a failure for having an anxiety disorder, but I remind her that "(She) isn't responsible for having the disorder, but she is responsible for her recovery."

Re:As a psychologist (1)

trentblase (717954) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759531)

Well, to some degree they can be responsible.

Re:As a psychologist (2, Insightful)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759552)

As somebody in the medical field (or soon to be), are you a proponent of using drugs to treat anxiety? I've heard reports that some of the drugs frequently have awful side effects, and can become very addicting and very difficult to ease off of. There have even been consumer lawsuits against various pharmas, if I'm not mistaken.

That said, if such a test were used to identify those suffering from such illnesses, would you as a clinician prescribe such drugs, or would you focus on alternative therapies?

Re:As a psychologist (4, Informative)

kaosrain (543532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759594)

It depends on the patient. In my opinion, benzodiazepines should NOT be used for long term treatment (anything longer than 2 weeks or so). What I've observed to be most effective is beginning an SSRI (or in some cases SNRI), and if needed using a benzodiazepine to control the symptoms/side effects until the S(S/N)RI has stablized. Then Cognitive Behavioral Therapy while the patient is on the anti-depressants, and then slowly taking them off of the antidepressants.

Wait a second... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759571)

There was a point, counterpoint and then a reaffirmation of the first point and nobody said the other one was stupid? Is today OPPOSITE DAY!?

Re:As a psychologist (4, Interesting)

sabaco (92171) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759533)

And in my studied opinion, THAT is the most prevalent misconception in the field. Knowing their is a biological component to their illness helps patients realize it's not just them, they aren't just crazy or imagining it, and helps them work on it from a much stronger position.

Re:As a psychologist (2, Interesting)

Frothy Walrus (534163) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759560)

Yes, but it just as strongly provides a cop-out mechanism with which the patient may absolve herself of her responsibility to recover. Besides, the science of measuring changes in brain and blood chemistry, then these changes for mood swings concurrent with the change, is shaky at best. It will be a long time before humans fully understand neuro- and bio-chemistry and how they relate to the psyche, and until that day I am more than happy to keep my patients in the dark about it.

Re:As a psychologist (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759578)

Do you make a distinction between depression with an organic cause and depression of the "I dont know how to be happy" type? (is that even a legit distinction?)

Re:As a psychologist (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759600)

My opinion is neither well informed or professional. If the cause of a persons illness (mental or otherwise) is chemical or physical, then why wouldn't you want to help them deal with the real problem effectively? I understand that people need to be responsible in helping themselves. If anyone is supposed to make an effort at fixing a problem they need to be as informed as possible about the nature of the problem.

I realize some people would use the knowledge that they have a chemical/physical disorder as a crutch to avoid trying to get better. I think this is where the job of their psychologist/psychiatrist/therapist really comes into play.

Re:As a psychologist (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759637)

I would also like to mention that I would never trust a psychologist that posts thing like this [slashdot.org] on slashdot. Troll.

Re:As a psychologist (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759607)

I won't claim expertise in clinical psychology, but from everything I have seen, psychological disorders are varied, with causes ranging from factors controllable by the patient to severe stress caused by family, job, or other social factors to environmental factors. In some cases then it may be important for the patient to assume responsibility, but in others there is likely not much he or she can do, at least not without chemical assistance. In any case, in disorders where it is hard to get the patient to realize that he or she even has the disorder, a blood test could be an important tool.

Isn't it a fact that for many disorders, including anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, drug treatment has proven to be far more effective than psychotherapy?

By the way, are you really a professional psychologist? Care to explain why a psychologist would be posting garbage like this [slashdot.org] ?

As a psychologist with a different scope of view (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759670)

In my studied opinion it is far better for the chemical/physical causes of mental illness to be hidden safely away from the ...

Besides having difficulties in recognizing simple cause-consequence relations in a complex world I sincerely wonder how you in your studies came to the conclusion that disregulations on the "material" side may be rated as a "cause".

CC.

Which explains why many psychologists (5, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759687)

...aren't taken seriously. There is no one cause, no one element, in ANY disorder, so there is no one place you can treat that will remedy that disorder. Simply telling the person to buck up won't help them - but if you charge $200 for every time you tell them that, it might make you very rich. Especially as it won't cure them, guaranteeing repeat custom.


"Fixing" the person is like walpapering a house with collapsed foundations. It'll make the problem invisible... for a while. But unless you fix the foundations, the house will still fall down. Likewise, fixing the foundations alone may prevent further damage, but the inside of the house will still look a wreck.


The job of ANYONE in (or around) mental health is to correct all of the aspects of the mental health problem they are dealing with. A partial solution can be worse than no solution at all, especially if you keep telling the patient that it's all the patient's fault/responsibility.


Establishing a cause, like faulty genes, allows the patient to remedy the underlying problem. Most genetic or biological problems are solvable with the right regemen, but unless you identify those underlying issues, you will NEVER identify the regemen that needs to be followed. And the patient will suffer the consequences of your inaction by deteriorating further. However, such treatment will only ever stabilize a condition. It won't cure it. Curing DOES require the patient to take responsibility for their actions, for their lives and for getting better.


To ask them to take that responsibility whilst their brain is chemically or electically up the spout, though, is about as intelligent as telling the skydiver whose parachute has failed that all they need do is flap their arms faster. Hardware failure requires a hardware solution. Software failure (in this case, the mind of the person) requires a software solution. NEVER assume that hardware will fix faulty software, or software will ever compensate for defective hardware.


Remedy the fault, NOT the fault's owner.

Re:As a psych student (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759479)

You have to convince them of something they don't have? So you can treat them? wtf?

Re:As a psych student (1)

kaosrain (543532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759523)

Look in to denial--many people diagnosed with mental disorders go through the same stages that someone diagnosed with say, cancer, would.

Research Purposes (1)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759484)

According to Soreq the blood test will be inexpensive, accurate and will take only a few hours to receive the results. Currently the blood test is not yet available, as Yissum, the Hebrew University technology transfer company, in charge of the commercialization of the research is looking for a partner from the medical industry to help push the research out of the laboratory and into hospitals and clinics.

I was hoping that they would release it for research purposes. For example, if I had the money, I would love to finance a study to see how effective relaxation techniques (TM, Yoga, other breathing exercises, exercise...) are in reducing anxiety. With these blood tests, you'd have an objective measure instead of some questionaire to test for anxiety.

Also, this would be great for testing the efficacy of anti-anxiety drugs such as Paxil.

Re:Research Purposes (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759573)

What do you mean by "release it for research purposes" that's different from what they're doing? Making a commercial kit available is precisely what's necessary for researchers to start using it, be they yogis or psychopharmaceutical developers. They'll use the same kits doctors will.

Re:Research Purposes (1)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759668)

What's the hold up? Why can't they release the test to acedemics for research purposes now. What they were talking about in TFA was a version for clinics, hospitals, etc... for testing patients. And you know they're going to charge a lot of money for it. I was thinking of a "freebee" or at least at a steep discount for acedemic purposes. Because to do a study, they're going to need quite a few of these things.

Re:As a psych student (2, Informative)

hvatum (592775) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759506)

This blood test could also help increase the appropriate perscription of scheduled anti-anxiety medications such as Valium. These Benzodiazepines are clinically the most effective treatment for anxiety but many doctors shy away from perscribing them due to their addictive potential for some drug users.

By proving beyond all doubt the existence of an anxiety disorder this blood test could allow doctors to perscribe such medications without fear of having their license revoked for the over-perscription of a scheduled drug.

Re:As a psych student (1)

tktk (540564) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759553)

I doubt the results of a blood test are going to sway the opinions of many partients. They'll just find a way to explain away the results. You'd be surprised how many people know the idea of a false positive.

And I wonder how the results of this test can be affected by time. When someone has anxiety, it's a pervasive thing that affects their daily living. But what if someone hears anxiety-causing info just before the blood test, or what if hospitals and blood tests make you highly anxious? Will the test be able to tell the difference between pervasive anxiety and momentary anxiety?

Hopefully, this test doesn't get used in place of a trained psychologist.

P.S. I've got a M.A. in Psychology.

As the victim of many ineffective psychologists (1)

Loundry (4143) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759554)

Currently one of the greatest challenges a psychologist faces in these disorders is getting the patient to see that they really do have one and it is impacting them negatively.

Yes, convincing a patient that they need to pay you all that money must be rather difficult. Yet the Noble Health Practicioner(TM) plunges forward!

I can't help but be terribly cynical and bitter after many wasted hours in the offices of ineffective psychologists (not to mention those shitty drug-dealing quacks -- psychiatrists!). Admitting you have a problem is only the first step. Finding a psychologist who is worth a damn is quite a bit more difficult, and no one, especially not a hungry-for-your-money psychologist, will help you find the one that works for you. You have to do it on your own, when you are at your weakest. It sucks, but that's life.

Re:As a psych student (1)

hendridm (302246) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759579)

Wouldn't such a test make you less relevant?

"According to your blood test, you have severe anxiety. Take this pill once a day. My receptionist will schedule a revisit in a month to see how you're doing."

Just curious.

/not a doctor

Re:As a psych student (0, Troll)

LeonGeeste (917243) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759610)

"Mental illness" is not generally not "illness" in any meaningful sense of the word. First, some background. In economics, choices are said to be based upon a person's preferences and his constraints. Preferences are what you want, in the order you want them; constraints are anything that stops you from getting what you really want. Normal illnesses can be described purely as constraints. No matter what you want, you can't will yourself to stop sneezing, or de-AIDS yourself, for example. So those are constraints. To understand the difference, you can apply the "gun-to-the-head" test. Ask: if you pointed a gun at the person and credibly told him you would kill him if he didn't stop, and he still couldn't, it's a constraint. If he could, it's a preference.

Mental illnesses are generally not constraints, but preferences. ADD doesn't need constraints to explain it: the person just has a high preference for variety and a low preference for monotony. A person who habitually steals doesn't have kleptomania; he just likes stealing. You could stop him with a gun.

Now, let's talk about this blood test. What does it prove? If we could tell who was a Catholic by a blood test, would that mean Catholicism is a mental illness? No, the "anxiety" label is a moral judgment. Anxiety is "bad", so it must be attributable to something physiological; no rational person would think that way, right? In exactly the same way, homosexuality was an "illness" because of a moral judgment. Would the discovery of a "gay gene" change this? If you need a better example, think about delusions. You're said to have the mental illness of delusions if you hold systematically biased beliefs. Yet the same standard specifically excludes religion. Now, whatever religion you are, you must believe some other religion's views are systematically biased. But they're arbitrarily excluded, because psychiatrists don't want to offend religious people. When attitudes change, so does what counts as a delusion, just as homosexuality got lobbed of the list.

Just my two cents.

Re:As a psych student (1)

michaeltoe (651785) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759652)

Go read up about panic disorder, it's not a "choice". Nobody in their right mind would want that. You're an idiot.

Re:As a psych student (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759676)

Ask: if you pointed a gun at the person and credibly told him you would kill him if he didn't stop, and he still couldn't, it's a constraint. If he could, it's a preference.

Considering that pointing a gun at a person's head and threatening to kill him if he didn't stop some uncontrollable (or at least very hard to control...) behavior, actually increases anxiety in a normal person by quite a bit, would this make anxiety an anti-preference?

Re:As a psych student (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759656)

As a psych student planning on specializing in anxiety/depression, this is great news. A blood test would make it a lot easier for people to acknowledge that they have an anxiety disorder. Currently one of the greatest challenges a psychologist faces in these disorders is getting the patient to see that they really do have one and it is impacting them negatively.

I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone who refuses to admit they have an anxiety disorder. However I know plenty of people who's doctors refuse to admit that they have an anxiety disorder, and refuse to prescribe appropriate medication because of this countries cruel and unjust War on Drug Users.

Now if they could just test fir pain, so thousands of pain patients don't have to suffer needlessly. Fucking puritans.

What if I don't want to know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759441)

I really don't want to know if I have Anxiety Disorders or Depression.
I certainly wouldn't want someone else to know.

Re:What if I don't want to know? (1)

borawjm (747876) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759519)

An anxiety disorder about other people knowing your anxieties. I guess that explains why you post as an AC

Re:What if I don't want to know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759550)

I really don't want to know if I have Anxiety Disorders or Depression.

Why not? Would you also fear being diagnosed with the flu? These disorders are medical illnesses and should be tested for and treated as such. Lying to yourself doesn't make the problem go away and you certainly aren't immune from their effects just because you don't know the cause.

I certainly wouldn't want someone else to know.

Then don't give them your blood?

Anxiety via Test (0, Offtopic)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759449)

In other news, IBM tech support agents reportedly the worst among cursing out customers.

Oh wonderful (2, Insightful)

USSJoin (896766) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759450)

Because that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we want to do with people with anxiety disorder: suck out their blood. That couldn't *possibly* make anyone... anxious, or worried. Nope. Not a chance of that.

Screening (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759453)

Perfect for screening potential employees as well!

My only worry (3, Interesting)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759454)

My only worry about this is that some people might just be feeling shitty, and wouldn't want to submit to a blood test. What if a person says they're anxious/depressed, but the blood test says otherwise? What do doctors believe?

In any event, it'd probably be better if doctors got to work on making some antidepressants with less overt side effects before they learn to diagnose it...I mean I've just started taking Prozac, and already I'm getting headaches, and the leaflet with the pills has a whole lot more side effects to watch out for.

Re:My only worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759482)

Psh...everyone knows Prozac is a placebo.

Re:My only worry (1)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759511)

I don't know of many placebos with side effects.

Re:My only worry (1)

TonyMillion (545370) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759647)

All placebos have side effects if you read the patient information leaflet so you know what to expect.

Re:My only worry (1)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759686)

I'd love to see how you can get headaches, earache or worsened depression from a placebo. Really.

Re:My only worry (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759526)

Maybe it would be better if the nurture (environment) part would be treated instead of the nature (DNA) side (as the article seems to suggest).

On a side note: My wife took Prozac and turned bipolar as a consequence, so take care.

CC

Re:My only worry (1)

slo_learner (729232) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759532)

That makes sense. Let's develop the medication before we understand what it is we are medicating. No wonder the line is so long at the pharmacist.

Re:My only worry (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759564)

My only worry about this is that some people might just be feeling shitty, and wouldn't want to submit to a blood test. What if a person says they're anxious/depressed, but the blood test says otherwise? What do doctors believe?

If the blood test comes back negative, then maybe it is not the anxiety disorder that the test was designed to test for. It could still be something else, something purely psychological, or something else entirely.

A test never tells you that you are not sick. It can just tell you that you don't have some specific illness.

Case in point. My father in law recently passed away from complications relating to chemotherapy used to treat his MDS (it was thought that it was starting to transform into a type of Leukemia called AML). They ran tests for months before finding the cause.

Only 1 researcher in the field (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759589)

Since there is only 1 person working in the entire field of psychiatric research, obviously all research on new anti-anxiety meds was stopped while these experiments were being conducted.

Anxiety caused by too much caffeine. (2, Interesting)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759455)

While I'm not a doctor, a lot of the most anxious people I know are heavy consumers of caffeine. They're the sort of people who drink three cups in the morning, followed by a Coke while at work, and then another cup of coffee and a chocolate bar snack on the way home, followed by a couple of cups of tea with dinner. And then they can't sleep, so they need to repeat the cycle again the next day, for years on end.

The was one fellow I worked with, Trent, who was in that cycle, and was always very anxious and irritable. He eventually decided to just cut out caffeine completely. So he started drinking fruit juices instead of coffee, water instead of Coke. He stopped eating chocolate. And soon after dropping caffeine from his diet he found he was able to concentrate more, was far more efficient at work, and was a whole lot less anxious.

So perhaps a good way to eliminate some forms of anxiousness is to stop consuming caffeine.

Re:Anxiety caused by too much caffeine. (3, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759485)

That makes anxiety easy to test for. If there's no blood in the caffeine stream, then they're suffering from excessive anxiety. You can then diagnose the type of anxiety by whether the largest fraction of non-caffeine substance is tea, coffee or chocolate.

Re:Anxiety caused by too much caffeine. (1)

Enrico Pulatzo (536675) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759584)

No blood in the caffeine stream? I'm not sure if this was a joke or a Freudian slip. Either way, I enjoyed it.

Re:Anxiety caused by too much caffeine. (1)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759495)

So perhaps a good way to eliminate some forms of anxiousness is to stop consuming caffeine.
Try not to be anxious about the hordes of Slashdotters now converging on your location with torches and pitchforks.

In all serousness, though, I eliminated caffeine from my diet for several years (I have an occasional bit now and then these days) and I felt much better physically and mentally afterwards.

Re:Anxiety caused by too much caffeine. (1, Insightful)

nefarity (633456) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759497)

There's a difference between anxiety and anxiety disorders. What you've written is completely off topic.

Let's look at the definition, chico. (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759592)

Let us refer to the definition of "anxiety disorder", shalt we?

anxiety disorder
Any of various disorders in which anxiety is either the primary disturbance or is the result of confronting a feared situation or object; they include obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=anxiety%2 0disorder [reference.com]


Indeed, very often anxiety is caused by excessive caffeine consumption. While it isn't obsessive-compulsive disorder by any means, caffeine-induced anxiety can very well be considered an anxiety disorder.

insensitive clode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759525)

[ALL CAPS]
what!!?? take away my caffein will you!!??
don't you realize it's the only way I can maintain controll!!!???
[/ALL CAPS]

Re:Anxiety caused by too much caffeine. (1)

Frangible (881728) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759551)

Stimulants, including caffeine, can indeed exacerbate anxiety in some people, but they are a minority of users. For most, stimulants improve concentration and task performance. A fairly interesting recent study detailing some of the mechanics and effects of caffeine is here [scielo.br] .

Personally though, it's been my observation most people are prone to anxiety when having blood drawn or given an injection; I'm not necessarily sure that warrants medication.

Caffeine also has another interaction with this test in that it triggers the release of acetylcholine, and therefore possibly acetylcholinase as part of a negative feedback process as well. I assume nicotine would do much the same thing. Even if neither influenced the subject's behavior anxiety score.

More info regarding that study. (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759635)

Can you provide more information regarding that study? Namely, how it was funded. Brazil does have somewhat of an industry producing cocoa. They're also amongst the largest (if not the largest) exporters of coffee. So I'm naturally weary of studies promoting the use of caffeine from a nation that depends significantly on the economic potential of caffeine.

Re:More info regarding that study. (1)

Frangible (881728) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759673)

Yes, many studies are funded by interests central to the study, and it seems possible this may influence the study in some cases. I do not know anything about that study in particular beyond what I have provided. There are many other studies on PubMed [nih.gov] showing similar results for caffeine, though. Using the query terms "caffeine anxiety", "caffeine stroop", "caffeine concentration", etc may help you find more of what you're looking for.

Re:Anxiety caused by too much caffeine. (4, Funny)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759618)

Perhaps anxious people go to Caffeine as an answer. Then get hooked on harder drugs such as Coding and Linux.

Re:Anxiety caused by too much caffeine. (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759625)

For personal reasons, I've done a lot of library research on anxiety. You can have very serious anxiety problems with using any caffiene. Not an MD, just an interested patient with a reading addiction.

Too much caffeine can cause the same sort of symptoms as various anxiety disorders, but that's relatively easy to diagnose and treat. And cutting back or eliminating caffiene is almost always recommended in treatment of people with anxiety disorders. Caffiene can also make tranquilizers and other therapies less effective. Psychaiatrists know this, and you'll also find that info in most books on anxiety at the library -- assuming that your agorophobia hasn't gotten too bad to go out, yet.

A lot of people end up in hospital emergency rooms when they have their first panic attack. It resembles the symptoms of a heart attack in many cases. An anxiety blood test might be very helpful for the ER doc to get you out of the hospital with a referral to a psychiatrist. It might also be reassuring for the patient at that point, being that the condition is generally treatable. Could save you the trouble and expense of a battery of unnecessary heart diagnosics, too.

Re:Anxiety caused by too much caffeine. (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759651)

I always love that argument. And this quote is the first thing that hits me: "Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anyone."

Basically, you're saying that someone that is probably taking far too much caffeine is having negative effects. That's not really surprising. I have 29 ounces or less of Coke each day, and that's about all the caffeine I have (occasionally I'll have a chocolate candy bar or something, but that's rare I believe that's roughly the same amount of caffeine as a single cup of coffee, maybe slightly more.

I have no problems concentrating or with anxiety. My only problems with concentration usually come from external factors - the cat jumps on my lap, the phone rings, etc. Sure, I occasionally get nervous/anxious about things, but who doesn't? Some anxiety is normal.

I've seen people (not you) here ranting and raving about how caffeine is evil based on anecdotal evidence similar to what you presented. But the fact is that someone overdosed on any drug is likely to be experiencing side effects. We know what happens when people drink too much alcohol, so why would we think too much caffeine is any different?

--RJ

How is this any better? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759457)

Many people who are reluctant to undergo this examination are left untreated and can continue to suffer for many years.

So, if people are reluctant to undergo examination by a doctor what makes the researches believe that they will appreciate being stuck w/a needle and then have to sit around and wait out their results?

Sticking a needle in the patient's urethra? (0, Flamebait)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759504)

Maybe they'll stick the needle in the patient's urinary tract. If he or she can handle having a tube of metal stuck in his or her pee hole, then perhaps he or she isn't so anxious after all.

Re:How is this any better? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759665)

They'll get your blood when you show up in the ER with heart attack symptoms. This is often a panic sufferer's first contact with a doctor. You'll hardly notice the needle stick with everything else going on.

Dangerous (4, Insightful)

manonthemoon (537690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759460)

I doubt these kind of issues can be singled out by a blood test. I'm sure they are finding some subset of those with an anxiety issue, but they will overlook others with similar issues because "it didn't show up on the test."

The last thing we need are doctors relying even *more* upon tests rather than listening to their patients.

Needlephobia (1)

path_man (610677) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759462)

Especially easy to spot during this blood test is the anxiety of needles.... http://www.needlephobia.co.uk/ [needlephobia.co.uk]

The older test (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759465)

If the patient has a panic attack when he is shown the (large) needle or when he sees his own blood, that would be a good indicator too.

won't work (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759469)

What if I get panic attacks at the site of needles or blood?

Test Anxiety (1)

wuie (884711) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759481)

This has really got to suck if one has test anxiety.

A shame (1)

buggy_throwback (259436) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759483)

.. that they missed this years igNobles.

Re:A shame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759547)

.. that they missed this years igNobles.

And this year's igSpelilgn, too!

Who needs tests when we have Tom Cruise (2, Funny)

techstar25 (556988) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759486)

Who needs tests when we have Tom Cruise to tell us that it's all in our imagination and we just need exercise to chase those blues away!

Re:Who needs tests when we have Tom Cruise (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759639)

Excersize does help because it changes the biological underpinnings of depression, but this is different from anxiety. Nutrition helps. Sunlight helps. So do antidepressants.

If Tom Cruise could actually wake up to the fact that sunlight, Prosac, and excersize have similar though quantitatively different effects on the brain, maybe he would wake up to the fact that Scientology is full of half-truths well told, though he cannot tell them half as well.

Now, anxiety disorders are different than depression. I don't doubt that both could be detected by blood tests. And I hope that this may also lead to new treatments as we understand the underlying endocrine changes better.

Re:Who needs tests when we have Tom Cruise (4, Interesting)

Frangible (881728) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759643)

Actually, exercise does increase the dopaminergic tone in the brain, the mechanism involved is a short-lived change in gene expression that upregulates calcium transport. It has also been shown to increase the number of dopamine receptors in animal models.

This is relevant because the common mechanism of effect behind SSRI-based antidepressants involves the sensitization of the dopaminergic system via increased serotonin levels. Some antidepressant medication actually has no direct interaction with sertonin at all.

This [nih.gov] study shows an effectiveness of 50% of the use of exercise in relieving symptoms of depression, which is approximately that of antidepressant medication or cognitive behavioral therapy alone. Of course, it is likely the best results would come from a combination of all three.

I call bullshit (1)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759493)

"The team has also set their sights on depression, hoping for a similar technique to detect these types of disorders as well."

NaCl present in blood, it must be depression

As former OCD, I am concerned (4, Insightful)

Loundry (4143) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759494)

For those of you not in the know, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder.

I read TFA.

The problem I see with this kind of testing is the cases where the diagnosed individual refuses treatment. The stigma against being labeled as "crazy" is still crushingly huge, and this is a signifigant reason why many people who suffer from emotional disorders refuse to seek treatment. They see it as a sign of weakness, of "not being able to handle things themselves."

So I forsee and fear individuals getting stuck with a (mandatory) needle then being told, "You are anxious", and "You must submit to treatment". The world knows no shortage of elitist M.D.s who hate the notion of a patient not obeying their very learned whim. Why not use the police to force these people into treatment? Perhaps I'm just being paranoid [altheal.org] .

Or maybe I'm just anxious...

Re:As former OCD, I am concerned (1)

AaronStJ (182845) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759671)

Hopefully, this test will help the stigma of being labeled "crazy." If a psychologist tell you you're anxious, that's one thing. But if a blood test reveals a disorder, that's something else entirely in most people's minds, I'll bet. Hopefully this will help "legitimize" psychological disorders, and stop people from saying things like "just snap out of it."

effects of acetylcholinesterase (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759514)

Interesting to see that they found a correlation between acetylcholine / acetylcholinesterase and anxiety disorders. It goes to show that the physical symptoms aren't just "in your head". Those two chemicals regulate the nervous system. You'll see that most nerve agents, such as VX, are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.

I would like to see someone take this new information and conduct another study of the people suffering from Gulf War syndrome - both with physical weakness and mental / anxiety problems. I bet they would discover that many of them were either exposed to a nerve agent or an antidote on some level. It's sad that so many veterans are suffering and our government has made no real effort to help them.

Seems subjective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759515)

Seems that they working with a total of 3 enzymes in an "anxiety" system that is far from fully understood. Lots of guesses go into building the scale used to determine "abnormal" levels. Sounds like lots of normal subjects might be false positives. Objective tests for mental illness would be great, but I don't think this is one.

YAou fail it... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759516)

infinitesimally BitTorrent) Second, Is th%e ultimate Theo de Raadt, one flaws in the BSD end, we neeD you To keep up as you loved that or a public club,

It works like this, simply (2, Funny)

matt me (850665) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759520)

If they won't let you take their blood for the test, they've got a disorder!

In other news... (2, Funny)

command_not_recogniz (921879) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759521)

Anxiety Blood Test results to be tracked with RFID. IBM corporation swears there's nothing to be anxious about...

Should we make everyone "normal"? (2, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759524)

Although I can understand helping people who have debilitating neuron-chemical imbalances, I'm not sure that everyone should be normalized. The world needs both risk-takers (hyper-actives) and risk-avoiders (anxiety-prone) to both spur innovation and create solutions that minimize deleterious consequences.

Note: I'm no a fan of PC (politically-correct) diversity, but do see value in variety to maximize total economic performance across a range of conditions and fields of endeavor.

Re:Should we make everyone "normal"? (1)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759627)

I've always kind of felt that the difference between "fixing a problem" and some kind of sick Orwellian police state that drugs everyone up is all about whether the person gets to choose to take the treatment or not. If a person isn't a violent danger to everyone around him/her then I feel that it should be their choice over whether they are medicated for their condition. Granted social pressures may push people to get treatment but it should never be a requirement. On the other hand, I don't feel that we should withhold new treatments for things like ADHD, anxiety disorder, depression, etc. simply because we feel that it might be better for society, in the long run, to have the variations in personality.

-GameMaster

Re:Should we make everyone "normal"? (1)

earache (110979) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759630)

I'm with you, but it should be a choice given to the individual.

Would you want a paranoid security sysadm ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759654)

I know I would want one for sure ...

Re:Should we make everyone "normal"? (1)

michaeltoe (651785) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759675)

Anxiety disorders have little to do with just being "stressed out". It's far more debilitating than that, and I don't think it's really a good thing. 1/5th of all panic disorder sufferes will attempt to kill themselves as a result of their condition. 1/3 will resort to substance abuse. Is that a positive thing? I think not.

If it works, it's a step out of the dark ages (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759543)

Until now they typically diagnose by asking you some questions ("do you have thoughts of suicide? do you sleep ok?" etc.). If you're having a bad day or have your shit-colored glasses on for some other reason, it will color your responses.

And then they try you on some anti-depressant and ask you the same questions 2 months later to see if it's working. If it's not working, they switch to another medication, rinse and repeat.

This is seriously lame, and in the case of depression, might easily cause you to give up. A blood test would go a long way toward addressing this -- especially if it gives any clues about which medications are more likely to work.

Anxiety ... In Isreal.... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759559)

Say it isn't so... surely suicide bombers and general unrest, military police, guns, bombs, and other daily lifestyle activities in the holy city are not prone to create anxiety disorders!

Geez, in a Jeruselem hospital, you only have to take blood from anyone that happens to be there in the waiting room and I bet you find an anxiety disorder... bet that was hard to test out?

Just my thoughts...

I have anxiety disorder (4, Interesting)

earache (110979) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759604)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

I wish this test had been around when I blew my top a few times and ended up in the emergency room. Each visit resulted in a different hypothesis on what was wrong with me, from dehydration to renault's syndrome.

The shit is scary enough when you have no idea what is wrong with you. For most anxiety sufferers, the first half dozen of earthquake sized panic attacks are almost always assumed to be physical problems. I believe I had brain cancer, lung cancer, intestinal cancer, heart problems, etc. Had I been shown a test result that read anxiety, I would have saved a lot of additional anxiety worrying about whether or not my ticker was going to go at any given moment.

Good news.

Breaking down the last barriers (1)

haggar (72771) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759611)

There has been, for a long time, a barrier, a kind of mental wall, even in well-informed people, about the notion that some psychological manifestations are actually neurological, that is, somatic in nature. Many thought that anti-depressants exist, but think they are just used by people that could just as well be treated a la Dr. Phil (I have nothing against Dr. Phil, on the contrary, love him). Tom Cruise is a sad case in point.

Well, if this tests becomes widespread, the notion that anxiety and depression can be, indeed, neurological phenomena, will estabilish itself once and for all even in the average person's mind. And it's about freaking time; people with such conditions have been victims of of prejudice and missunderstanding for way, way too long.

Humanity will be made better by this, I'm SERIOUS! (3, Insightful)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759624)

Prozac has changed things but there is this pervasive idea that mood is completely under ones control and that all one needs is determination to snap out of any mood and become the most successful happy person in the world. Happy people tell depressed people naively, "Why don't you just snap out of it?". The problem is is that you can't simulate another persons brain chemistry. You can't even simulate your own brain chemistry from mood to mood. Ever walk by two people yelling and screaming at each other and start thinking, "What's up with them?". Have you ever been those two people yelling and screaming at some point in your life? When we're happy we couldn't imagine how we were sad. When we're sad we couldn't imagine how we could have been happy.

When we eliminate something that wastes the lives of 13% of the population, and if you've ever known someone with an anxiety disorder you'll know how much of their life they waste, won't that improve the human condition more than just about anything else? What's better, is these fixes to mental health improve things throughout society, letting people avoid destructive compulsions and reach their full potential.

This Could Drastically Reduce Diagnosis Costs (2, Informative)

fyrie (604735) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759629)

Anxiety disorders are typically "ruled in" after doing all sorts of tests first to look for other serious medical issues that may cause similar symptoms. Having an MRI's and seeing a neurologist, visiting an E.N.T., and visiting a cardiologist can often be the path taken before a Dr. rules in an anxiety disorder (unless of course it's totally obvious, which it isn't a lot of the time).

The Value Here is... (3, Interesting)

dslauson (914147) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759642)

Many people (like Tom Cruise) consider psychology to be a pseudoscience. However, if we can come up with definitive tests with concrete results in order to diagnose patients with mental illnesses, it makes psychology that much more closely resemble the rest of the world of medicine. This will (hopefully) make people realize that there is a real science behind it.

I know that if my son was diagnosed with ADD, I would feel much more comfortable having him treated with ritalin or whatever if the doctor had a blood test (or something more concrete than "He's all fidgety in class") to back it up.

In related news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759678)

A professor at the same Univerity (the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) just
won [haaretz.com] a noble prize in game theory.

Hopefully they'll get this for ADD as well ... (2, Funny)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 8 years ago | (#13759684)

I was going to get tested for ADD, but that would take so long, not to mention I'd have to look up the place to get the test done, then have to go there, wait for them to administer the test, and then wait for the results.

I just don't have the attention span for that kind of commitment. Anyways, time to go find something else to post about...

I know I've stolen this from numerous comedians ...

Test for Anxiety Disorder??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759685)

What are you guys crazy!? Tests? What tests!? I don't need any tests.. I don't have any anxiety disorders... oh damn, I need a cigarette.

As a patient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13759690)

I have symptoms that different doctors interpret differently. I've been on several treatments with mixed results, none satisfactory, some worst than no treatment at all.

I welcome a biological test that will help me narrow down my search for a treatment.

OT: Is this where I say "I for one welcome our new finger-pricking overlords"? :)
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