Some particular patterns of activity on brain scans may be of help to doctors by identifying whether talk therapy or antidepressant medication will be better for a patient suffering from depression, tell the researchers.
“All depressions are not equal and like different types of cancer, different types of depression will require specific treatments,” said lead researcher Helen Mayberg, Professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, US.
The study was published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry. It assigned patients 12 weeks of treatment with one of two antidepressant medications or with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a talking therapy focused at helping people manage their problems by altering the way they think and react.
Patients were made to undergo a functional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scan, which was then analysed to check whether the result from CBT or medication depended on brain’s state pror to starting treatment.
The MRI scans also helped to identify that the intensity of functional connectivity between an important emotion processing centre (the subcallosal cingulate cortex) and three other areas of brain was related with the treatment outcomes.
“Using these scans, we may be able to match a patient to the treatment that is most likely to help them, while avoiding treatments unlikely to provide benefit,” Mayberg added.