A blood test predicts depression

Major depression may be diagnosed with a simple blood test, perhaps treated with a common nutritional supplement, according to research conducted by a team of bioscientists from five US research centers and one in Sweden.

New research has revealed a correlation between serious depression and a lack of a biochemical called acetyl-L-carnitine or ALC. It regulates certain chemicals the brain uses as signals between cells. Without enough ALC, the signaling chemicals can run wild, creating a neural toxicity that leads to a lack of resilience under stress, causing depression and other ailments.

Previously, depression had to be diagnosed through personality questionnaires and interviews with health care professionals.

The research also found that the less ALC in a person, the earlier in life depression could set in, and the more the ailment resisted conventional drug treatments. The good news: while drug companies’ current anti-depressants can take weeks to work, the ALC treatment showed positive effects in mice within days.

Researchers are planning to test for optimum dosage levels next. Human trials could be underway by 2020.


According to data from Blue Cross Blue Shield, the incidence of depression is on the rise. It already afflicts one in every ten US residents and about 300 million people worldwide. In the US alone, the illness takes more than $200 billion out of the economy each year in lost productivity, medical costs, and related expenses. A simple, safe, and natural treatment could greatly reduce the cost of this scourge in money, productivity, and quality of life.

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