HEADLINES Published February5, 2016 By Beatrice Asuncion

Scientists Develop Scans that Can Pick-up Signs of Depression

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Emotionally adverse events that occur before age 6 may lead to later depression and changes in the brain.
(Photo : Vincent Van Gogh, commons.wikipedia.org)

Depression has been officially described and classified as one of the mood disorders by the American Psychiatric Association since the 1980s.

However despite almost four decades of research and studies, wrong notions about the disorder are still prevalent. Amongst the most popular belief is that sadness and depression are one and the same. Furthermore, some people are convinced that depression is a result of a weak mental state and is not a real illness.

In reality according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 9% of adults suffer from the disease. It is the leading cause for disability for Americans ages 15 to 44. Thankfully, treatment and diagnosis for depression have come a long way.   In fact, researchers from MIT recently announced a breakthrough that might be able to help diagnose depression before symptoms become apparent.

Scientists from MIT's McGovern Institute unveiled their study this week that detail how brain imaging can identify which children have a high propensity for depression. In their research, the scientists conducted a study in which two sets of children, one with family history of depression and the other without, were subjected to brain scanning in order to find out whether or not there are difference in brain activity in children at higher risk for the illness.

"They answer is there are very great differences. We saw differences that were striking in a number of circuits including those that change in depression, including those involved in feelings, other parts that are involved in thinking" explained John Gabrieli, a professor from MIT who has been integral in the research.

Gabrieli has since explained the importance of their discovery and according to the professor in diagnosing depression before symptoms kick in they are saving people from having to experience the insurmountable grief depression brings.

"So we want to learn both to identify early children who are at true risk, help them before they struggle and learn from those that are resilient"

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