Blood Test Aims to ID Bipolar Moods

Could be used to diagnose disorder, though ethical issues abound
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2008 6:17 AM CST
A graphic charts number of children ages 0-19 diagnosed as bipolar between 1994 and 2003. The new genetic markers could help resolve questionable diagnoses.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Researchers at Indiana University have developed a blood test that uses genetic markers to identify a patient's mood state, a discovery that could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Widespread tests are still at least 5 years away, but already many are concerned that results would be used to screen employees, military enlistees, or even college applicants, MSNBC reports.

“We should look beyond the stigma of a mental illness because the most important thing is to have a very clear diagnosis,” emphasized one psychiatrist. Bipolar disorder can be difficult to assess, as a diagosis is heavily based on the patient's own description of symptoms. An empirical test for elevated or depressed moods would be a breakthrough for psychiatry.