Electrocardiogram Distinguishes Bipolar Disorder From Depression In Study


A Loyola Medicine study indicates a simple 15-minute electrocardiogram may help physicians distinguish between depression and bipolar disorder.

The test would be extremely helpful since bipolar disorder is frequently misdiagnosed as major depression, and treatment for the two conditions differs significantly.

With bipolar disorder, individuals cycle between emotionally high manic episodes, and severe depressive lows. Treatment typically involves taking an antidepressant, plus a mood stabilizing drug that helps prevent the onset of manic episodes. If bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed as depression, the mood stabilizing drug is not prescribed.

The Loyola study, published in the World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, demonstrated that heart rate variability, measured with an electrocardiogram, can reveal whether people have bipolar disorder, or major depression. (Heart rate variability refers to differences in the intervals between heartbeats.)

“Having a noninvasive, easy-to-use and affordable test to differentiate between major depression and bipolar disorder would be a major breakthrough in both psychiatric and primary care practices, said Angelos Halaris, M.D., Ph.D., professor in Loyola's psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences department, and medical director of adult psychiatry.

Sixty-four of the adult participants in the Loyola study had major depression, and 37 were diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Each subject underwent an electrocardiogram at the study’s start. Then, using special software the electrocardiogram data was converted into heart rate variability components.

In measuring the heart rate variability, investigators computed each participant’s respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). It was discovered that those with major depression had significantly higher RSA than the bipolar participants. Further, the researchers noted that bipolar individuals had more inflammation indicators in their blood than the depressed subjects.

Dr. Halaris stated that more research is required to validate this study's findings, and establish its clinical significance.

Source: news wise
Photo credit: vintage_queen


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