Scientists from Wayne State University say measuring the thickness of the brain can distinguish children with major depressive disorder (MDD) not only from normal children, but also from those with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
WSU’s team of researchers set out to determine if differences in cortical thickness might not only distinguish children with depression from healthy children who are not depressed but also from those with other psychiatric disorders.
Using a new technique to measure cortical thickness of 24 MDD patients, 24 OCD patients and 30 healthy control patients, the research team observed cortical thinning in five regions of the brain and greater thickness in the bilateral temporal pole in major depressive disorder patients.
In OCD patients, the only significantly different region from healthy control patients was a thinner left supramarginal gyrus. Study author Dr. David Rosenberg called the findings “very exciting.”
“By measuring cortical thickness, we were able to distinguish depressed children not only from healthy children without depression, but also from those with another psychiatric disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder.”
The study also revealed that children with at least one first-degree relative with depression had distinct differences in cortical thickness compared to children with no obvious family history of mood disorder.
“Depressed children with and without a family history of depression who met the same clinical criteria of depression and who appeared the same clinically, had completely different cortical thickness based on their family history of depression,” said Rosenberg.
Researchers believe the study offers a new technique to identify more objective markers of psychiatric illness in children.
“It may have potential treatment significance for one-third of depressed children who do not respond to any treatment, and also for many who only partially respond with continued functional impairment,” said Rosenberg.
“We have found a clue to guide us to look at subtypes of depression just as we would in other chronic medical illnesses like diabetes, such as insulin dependent and non-insulin dependent diabetes.”
The study is published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Source: Wayne State University