UCF researchers develop blood test to diagnose depression

It's taken four years, but researchers at the University of Central Florida have achieved a new breakthrough. It's a blood test that can diagnose depression.

"Mental health is a big issue and there is not much testing procedure out there where you can actually have a very simple way of understanding what’s going on in your brain," said Professor Debashis Chanda, a researcher at UCF's Nanoscience Technology Center.

The blood test would give us that understanding. Think of it as similar to diabetics checking their blood sugar and insulin levels. 

This would allow people to check their dopamine levels. The amount of dopamine in your blood helps determine how depressed - or not - you may be.

"In terms of mental health problems, we’re actually talking about a change in chemical concentration, and the dopamine actually determines how happy we are."

As little as a finger prick of blood goes on a chip. The equipment separates the plasma from the blood. A deeper look and the light and sensors inside can reflect back how much dopamine is in the blood.

The equipment and maybe not the most user-friendly for the average person so the goal is to make a more compact version of this for people to use at home.  

"You better monitor at home and that will allow you to adjust your medication," said Dr. Chanda. 

It'll likely be a few years before this can be compacted and mass-produced for the millions of people who suffer from depression, but when it happens "that will have a big implication for the huge section of society."