Mental health disorders are some of the most serious medical conditions a person could ever face. These disorders impede an individual’s ability to interact with those around him. They also increase the intensity of feelings such as anxiety, senseless fear, and paranoia within a person. The cumulative result of these effects is reduced productivity at work and an unhappy existence at home.
Unfortunately, mental health disorders are common. In fact, studies show that nearly 450 million people worldwide suffer from some kind of mental disorder. Depression and schizophrenia affect about 350 million and 51 million people respectively. It is important to note that individuals can suffer from multiple mental health conditions at the same time.
Predicting diseases before they occur
Prevention is always better than cure, but the problem is you have to know that a problem might occur at all before you can prevent it. Sadly, most people start dealing with depression and schizophrenia among other mental health problems when it is too late.
Scientists at Cambridge University have now found a way of predicting the possible onset of mental conditions. The researchers scan the brain of a person over time taking note of the changes in his MRI scans. A large variation in the results of these scans is an indication of possible mental health issues in future.
What the study means for the world of medicine
Currently, society relies heavily on traditional methods of detecting a disease. For example, you may never know you have the flu until you start coughing or sweating profusely. With this new breakthrough, you do not take note of any physical or behavioral changes. Instead, you examine a person’s brain and then announce a possible psychological problem in future. Previously, researchers thought only predictions for physical issues were possible. In contrast, this study now shows predicting a future psychological problem is possible.
With such foresight, parents can prepare well in advance. More specifically, parents and guardians can either prevent the onset of such problems in their kids or mitigate them if they occur.
Some details of the study
Dr Kirstie Whitaker, who is part of the teaching staff at Cambridge University's Psychiatry Department, conducted this study. The MRI scans took place in Cambridge University and in the University College London. It involved 300 participants aged between 14 to 24 years. The study revealed that great variations in MRI scans are an indication of possible mental health problems. PNAS published this research in July 2016.