Simple urine test could differentiate between Bipolar and Depression

By Maria Kyriacou

Image: Thinkstock
Image: Thinkstock
Thousands of lives at risk from a misdiagnosis of depression could be saved after researchers discover a clearer test for Bipolar Disorder

Much-loved comic as Robin Williams was famous for his free-form sense of humour coupled with his signature hyper, boundless energy, but he also suffered from debilitating lows. Although he had told actress and friend Carrie Fisher that he didn’t think he fit Bipolar Disorder (BP), she begged to differ.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter after Williams’ suicide, Fisher recalled, “He took the test, and got all the answers right, but didn’t think [being bipolar] was something that had anything to do with him.”

Now a new test has been developed by researchers at Chongqing Medical University, China that could provide clearer answers for people struggling for a diagnosis.

The reliable, easy method helps distinguish between depression or bipolar, based on biomarkers in urine.

The more common major depressive disorder (MDD) is routinely diagnosed by doctors, leaving bipolar sufferers unable to access help specifically for their symptoms.

In fact, studies have found that almost 40% of patients diagnosed with MDD could have misdiagnosed Bipolar Disorder. This leads to incorrect treatment, particularly with antidepressants that can lead to suicidal tendencies and have fatal consequences.

Antidepressants such as Prozac and Celexa aren’t always helpful in treating people with BP. Doctors have been alerted to the risks of misdiagnosis, but till now have not had a surefire way to test for the disorder.

Psychiatrists recruited 126 whose diagnosis of MDD was considered reliable, 71 people with bipolar disorder and 126 “healthy controls”, with each group then divided into a training and test set.

The urine of those in the in the training set was examined by researchers to identify 20 metabolites associated with either MDD or bipolar. When the results were reanalyzed, six metabolites stood out and after normalizing them to creatinine concentration in urine, the authors found they could achieve 90% reliability in The study shows that biomarkers could play a major role in depression diagnosis.


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