Brain SPECT Imaging Predicts Outcomes in Depressed Patients
New research from Amen Clinics shows that brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging, a study that measures blood flow and activity patterns, identifies who is more likely to get better from depression. The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, because depression is a highly treatable risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Depression remains an important risk factor for Alzheimer’s dementia, yet few neuroimaging biomarkers are available to identify treatment response in depression.
The researchers compared the SPECT scans of 507 depressed patients who responded to treatment to the scans of 106 patients who were considered non-responders. The objective was to analyze and compare functional perfusion neuroimaging in persons with treatment resistant depression (TRD) compared to those experiencing full remission. The study found that patients who did not respond to treatment had lower overall cerebral blood flow, especially in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes and in brain regions known to be affected by Alzheimer’s, including the right hippocampus and left precuneus.
Lead author psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD says, “This is a critically important study. Knowing who is likely to get better from depression and who is not, will help treating physicians be sensitive to which patients are likely to need more help and need to be monitored more closely.” Treatment resistant depression is a major risk factor for suicide, divorce, and job loss. Dr. Amen also says, “This finding will also lead to more personalized treatment. For patients with low brain activity, stimulating the brain will be more important than standard serotonin enhancing drugs that tend to lower brain activity.”
Our findings identify imaging based biomarkers in persons with depression related to treatment response. These findings have implications in understanding both depression to prognosis and its role as a risk factor for dementia.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or depression, Amen Clinics can help. We will help you learn more about your brain and assist with early diagnosis and intervention. Call us today at (888) 288-9834 or visit our website to schedule a visit.