Brain Scan Can Help Predict Antidepressant Effect
> 5/21/2008 4:26:00 PM


One of the greatest challenges in treating depression can be finding the right prescription for each patient. Once a physician and client have decided that antidepressants will be useful in the treatment process, they must then begin to identify which of the nearly 20 FDA approved antidepressant compounds will be best for their particular case. Failing to find the right prescription can lead to negative side-effects or ineffective results, which can in turn lead to failure to maintain a medication regimen and, therefore, no symptomatic improvement. Many antidepressants also take several weeks to begin working, so wasted time can come at a premium for those who are suffering.

Enter Dr. Andrew Leuchter of UCLA, who has been at work on creating brain scanning technology that will help determine which antidepressants will be most beneficial for individuals with depression. For several years, Leuchter and his colleagues have focused on the pre-frontal lobe, where research has shown that antidepressants change brain activity before clinical response to the medication occurs. Leuchter presented the American Psychiatric Association with a smaller, more manageable version of the system that other studies have found to be effective. By reducing the time and expertise necessary to acquire a usable frontal quantitative electroencephalography, or fqEEG, reading, Leuthcer and his team have bettered an already promising system. Instead of a 90 minute procedure involving lengthy setup, this new design requires only 15 minutes for a reading. Using the new system, physicians could theoretically schedule medication management follow-up appointments only a week or two after starting a new prescription to get a sense of whether or not certain antidepressants will be effective even before symptoms have begun to abate.

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