NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s been an amazing breakthrough for the 15 million Americans suffering from major depression, and it could soon help with other mental health conditions too.

It’s a simple test which can help predict the best medication to provide relief, and even help prevent suicides.

Jan Petty’s struggle with depression began with a head injury four years earlier.

“I was hospitalized and I can’t tell you the number of drugs I have been given over the last three years,” she told CBS2.

Petty saw a well qualified psychiatrist who quickly prescribed an anti-depressant, and said she’d be find.

“I wasn’t fine, and the anti-depressant made me worse,” she said. “I had more anxiety, it started a whole cascade of events that lead to a suicide attempt.”

Unfortunately, Jan’s experience is all too common. There are numerous effective anti-depression drugs, but which on works for a particular patient is a trial and error process.

“70 to 80 percent of people fail on the first medication they’re given,” George Carpenter from MYnd Analytics said. “Many people drop out of treatment.”

That’s where George’s team at MYnd Analytics come in with their PEER test. It starts with an unusual looking cap that’s actually a standard array of electrodes used to record an electroencephalogram — EEG for short. Those brain waves come out like a random jumble of squiggly lines, but they’re actually a kind of tell-tale brain signature.

“Inside those lines, there’s actually a signal that’s unique to your brain,” Carpenter said. “That will tell us what medications, what mental health treatments you’ll respond to that are different from the ones I’ll respond to.”

Computerized artificial intelligence and machine learning generates a report that suggests the medication a depressed patient is most likely to respond to. A number of studies have shown the test to be accurate enough that the Food and Drug Administration has granted it “breakthrough device” designation.

“(It) means you could get on the right drugs three times more often than a doctor using trial and error, which is the best they can do today,” Carpenter said. “We’ve shown a 75 to 85 percent better reduction in suicidal thinking, than for patients receiving trial and error treatment.”

Jan took the test, which suggested a low dose of a single medication was her best shot at relief.

“In about two weeks, I was able to function normally and interact with people normally,” she said. “I’m doing great. Life couldn’t be better really, unless I could live closer to my grandchildren.”

The MYnd Analytics test has been validated for depression, but the company is also testing it for anxiety and other mental health conditions. It costs about $800, and insurance coverage has been on a case by case basis.

For more information on the test, visit MYnd’s website or reach out to their customer service line at 888-545-2677.


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