PET Scan Predicts Whether Drugs, Therapy Will Best Treat Depression

August 27, 2013

A recent pretreatment imaging scanning study of brain activity has forecasted whether depressed patients would best achieve remission with an antidepressant medication or psychotherapy.

If a patient’s pretreatment resting brain activity was low in the front part of the insula, on the right side of the brain (red area where green lines converge), it signaled a significantly higher probability of remission with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and a poor response to escitalopram, a serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. Conversely, hyperactivity in the insula predicted remission with escitalopram and a poor response to CBT.

“Our goal is to develop reliable biomarkers that match an individual patient to the treatment option most likely to be successful, while also avoiding those that will be ineffective,” explained Helen Mayberg, MD, External Web Site Policy, of Emory University (Atlanta, GA, USA), a grantee of the US National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (Bethesda, MD, USA).