The first genetic biomarkers - or biological indicators - for depression have been discovered by researchers in the UK. Brain scientists have found that people with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol who also showed signs of mild depression were up to 14 times more likely to suffer from clinical depression later in life.
The breakthrough could lead to a simple saliva test to determine who is most likely to suffer from clinical depression. The test has so far only proven to be effective for teenage boys. The research suggests that teenagers could be easily screened to assess their risk level for developing clinical depression.
Early detection could lead to better treatments but how will the teens and their parents react to finding out they have a high risk for depression?
As a parent, would you want to know if your child was likely to suffer depression? Could this lead to stigmatization of those deemed to be a higher risk?
Dr. Paul Schneider, MD, president of the Southern California Bioethics Committee Consortium