Brain SPECT imaging predicts outcomes in depressed patients

Brain SPECT imaging predicts outcomes in depressed patients
A statistical parametric map demonstrated brain regions that are abnormally lower in regional cerebral blood flow in treatment resistant depression (blue shaded areas) compared to persons who do respond to treatment. These include the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes. Credit: IOS Press

New research from the Amen Clinics shows that brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging, a study that measures blood flow and activity patterns, identifies who is likely to get better from depression and who is not. 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.

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 study found that patients who did not respond to treatment had lower overall cerebral , especially in the frontal, temporal, and 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 with low brain activity, stimulating the brain will be more important, than standard serotonin enhancing drugs that tend to lower activity."

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Journal information: Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

Provided by IOS Press
Citation: Brain SPECT imaging predicts outcomes in depressed patients (2018, March 20) retrieved 15 October 2019 from
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