Newly Discovered Biomarker for Depression
Canadians are currently living through a mental health crisis. A 2021 study conducted to investigate how the pandemic has impacted our nation’s collective mental health discovered that 83% of Canadians reported one or more symptoms of depression.
Statistically, even before the pandemic, mental illnesses like depression were certain to affect all individual members of the nation’s population (at least indirectly) at some point throughout their lives. Even people who have never experienced symptoms themselves were assuredly likely to encounter a family member, friend, co-worker, or other close contact suffering from a mental health disorder. In fact, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, even before the pandemic, 50% of the country’s population were certain to have experienced or to still be suffering from a mental illness by age 40. Now, it appears as though most Canadians have experienced at least one symptom of depression, a potentially severe and disabling mental health issue.
Mental illnesses were already responsible for most long-term disability (LTD) claims submitted across the country even before the outbreak of COVID-19. Over the past two years, that number that has only continued to rise.
Despite the fact that serious mental health disorders account for most LTD claims submitted to Canadian insurance providers each year, it can be particularly difficult to prove that the symptoms of depression directly impact a claimant’s ability to carry out the duties of their job. In fact, without objective, observable evidence, insurance providers often assert that they cannot confirm whether a claimant is even suffering from depression in the first place. Insurance companies often use this lack of observable evidence as the basis for denying a policyholder’s LTD claim.
However, all that could change for individuals with depression in the future. Scientific researchers have recently identified a biomarker for depression that could be identified by conducting a blood test. This brand-new research suggests that, not only could it be possible to identify whether a patient is suffering from depression using observable scientific evidence, but the effectiveness of various anti-depressant medications could also be assessed by examining a single biochemical hallmark.
This recent study was relatively small in scope; more extensive research and testing will be required before blood testing for depression can become a mainstream practice. However, this new research marks a major step forward to providing people suffering from depression with provable, biochemical evidence of their mental illness.
Understanding the Science Behind New Biomarker
According to the study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois, depression can be linked to decreased adenylyl cyclase, membrane-bound enzymes that exist within the cells created by certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin and epinephrine. By examining blood platelets, researchers identified the correlation between low adenylyl cyclase counts and depression.
In people with depression, GS alpha (the protein that allows their neurotransmitters to create adenylyl cyclase) becomes stuck in a lipid raft. GS alpha cannot function properly inside this cholesterol-rich matrix of the membrane, causing lower production of adenylyl cyclase.
By examining a patient’s blood test results, physicians could accurately diagnose depression by gauging whether or not GS alpha is stuck inside a lipid raft. Furthermore, researchers hypothesize that monitoring blood tests of patients on anti-depressants will be able to accurately measure the drugs’ effectiveness.
Currently, people suffering from depression may be prescribed different kinds of medication for various periods of time until their physician finds the most effective combination of drugs. Since blood platelets turn over in one week, doctors prescribing anti-depressants may only require their patients to try various prescriptions for just a week. If the medication is going to be effective, a patient’s GS alpha will move out from the lipid raft, something that can be readily observed by conducting a blood test.
This means that, if the hypothesis is correct, very early on in a patient’s therapeutic treatment, a single biomarker will be able to accurately predict whether a patient’s prescription will be effective in their fight against depression. This could help patients avoid the long, difficult process of trial and error often associated with the search for the perfect combination of pharmaceuticals.
The ability to rely on a single biomarker to both diagnose depression and measure the effectiveness of anti-depressants is a major step forward in the way this mental illness will be treated in the future. Accurate diagnosis and faster, more efficient treatment options could help future generations healthily navigate the all-encompassing challenges of suffering from depression.
The Real-World Impacts of Depression
Depression can impact all aspects of a person’s life. The symptoms can be overwhelming, debilitating, and isolating. Often, people suffering from depression find it difficult to perform even the most routine tasks. Their symptoms might make it impossible for them to carry out the duties of their job. Some common symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent feelings sadness, anxiety, and emptiness
- Irritability, restlessness, frustration, and drastic changes in mood
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Lack of energy, extreme fatigue
- Insomnia, over-sleeping, and/or other sleep disorders
- Fluctuations in weight (due to either increased food cravings or reduced appetites)
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Difficulty focusing, making decisions, and remembering
- Headaches, backaches, digestive disorders, and other physical ailments that do not respond to treatment
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
If you are in distress, call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-888-456-4566, or visit your nearest hospital’s emergency department.
Depression can affect people of all ages, cultures, and income levels, but certain systemic inequalities can lead to worsened outcomes for certain members of society. This is especially true if proper, affordable mental health support is difficult to access within their communities or if their insurance plans do not provide sufficient coverage.
Even before the pandemic, on average more than half a million Canadians a week missed work because of mental illnesses. However, even those lucky enough to have LTD benefits available through their insurance policy may have difficulty accessing these crucial income replacement payments when their symptoms make it impossible for them to continue working.
If your insurance plan covers long-term disability and your claim for benefits was denied even though your mental health issues prevent you from carrying out the tasks of your occupation, schedule a free initial consultation with our LTD lawyers by contacting Preszler Injury Lawyers today.
What to Do if Your LTD Claim Was Denied
Thanks to new advances in physiological, biophysical, and psychiatric research, the results of a simple blood test could become widely accepted methods for diagnosing depression in the not-too-distant future. Unfortunately, at the moment, there are still no commonly recognized, objective methods to prove that a patient is suffering from depression. Because of this, insurance companies frequently deny the LTD claims of legitimately suffering policyholders, citing a lack of evidence as their reason for withholding benefits payments.
Receiving a denied claim for LTD benefits can be more than frustrating, especially for policyholders suffering from severe symptoms of depression. If a person’s illness makes it impossible for them to continue earning their regular salary, LTD benefits may be their only way to continue supporting themselves financially. Being denied this essential income source can lead to increased anxiety, and exacerbated symptoms of their already overwhelming mental disorder.
That is why, if your claim for LTD benefits was denied, taking advantage of a free initial consultation with our long-term disability lawyers could be beneficial. If you are eligible to pursue legal action, our LTD lawyers may be able to help overturn your insurance provider’s unfair determination. By doing so, we may be able to help you recover the benefits you are rightfully owed, as well as any damages you may have incurred as a result of your claim’s initial denial. Our LTD lawyers fight on behalf of the clients we represent and handle all aspects of their claims so that they can focus on what’s most important: overcoming their mental illness.
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today
Although new advances in scientific research may provide hope for the future diagnosis and treatment of clinical depression, right now, Canadians are living through an echo-pandemic related to our collective mental health. People across the country are suffering from legitimate mental health issues now more than ever. Those who pay monthly insurance premiums for policies covering long-term disability should be entitled to the benefits they pay for when their medical conditions require them to do so.
If your claim for LTD benefits was denied, consider scheduling a free initial consultation with Preszler Injury Lawyers. By working with our LTD lawyers, you may be able to access the benefits coverage you rightfully deserve. To learn more, call 1-800-JUSTICE today.