EEG Can Determine Treatment for Depressed Patient

Posted on June 19, 2018

People react differently to positive events in their lives. For some, a small reward can have a large impact on their mood, while others may get a smaller emotional boost from the same positive event. These reactions can not only be objectively measured in a simple office evaluation, but can also help clinicians determine whether a patient with anxiety or depression is responding to treatment and if they will do better on an antidepressant drug, or in talk therapy.

For the study, 63 patients who have a history of anxiety or depression and 25 healthy participants with no history of mental health problems were recruited. Participants wore the EEG cap while undergoing a simple computer task. They were asked to choose one of two doors on a computer screen and were instructed that if the right door was chosen, the participant would win a small amount of money. If the wrong door was chosen, they would lose money. Next, participants with anxiety or depression were randomly chosen to take an SSRI (a class of antidepressants) every day for 12 weeks, or receive 12 weekly sessions of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) delivered by a psychotherapist. After treatment, all participants completed the monetary reward task again to assess whether there were changes in neural reactivity related to receiving a reward.

It was found that the more reward positivity increased from the baseline measurement to the final post-treatment measurement, the more participants reported a lessening of their depression or anxiety symptoms with treatment. This means that reward positivity closely follows symptom improvement as treatment progresses, and as such, can be used to help determine if a treatment is working for a patient or not. Also, participants with a blunted reward positivity before starting treatment had a greater reduction in depressive symptoms if they were assigned to receive SSRIs, but not talk therapy.

In conclusion, these findings could help bring precision medicine closer to reality for patients with anxiety and depressive disorders. Being able to give patients a treatment that will work for them is a big step towards helping more of them get relief from their symptoms sooner.


Source material from Science Daily

Mental Health News