Over a period of months you’ve noticed you can’t get to sleep. You’ve become very nervous and have had a couple of what you think are panic attacks. Man, your heartbeat’s been racing and your hands have been trembling. And if that wasn’t enough, your family and friends have wondered why you’re so downright crabby all the time.

You do the right thing and schedule an appointment with your physician. And she does the right thing by tossing hyperthyroidism on the differential diagnosis board, and orders T3, T4, and TSH blood tests. Well, the test results come back and you’ve been officially diagnosed with hyperthyroidism; and off to the world of targeted and efficacious biochemical treatment you go. Well, that’s great, but what if your blood work showed no thyroid dysfunction? Hey! Your symptoms are also typical of panic disorder. So with your physician’s blessings, it’s time for more blood work, right? Wrong. But, in about three years things may well be different.

You know, whether it’s panic, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, or other mind variances; patients and clinicians have been stuck with subjective diagnostic tools, like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), for some 100 years. It’s the same old story. And as helpful as, say, the DSM is, the diagnosing clinician has to hope the patient is a darned good historian. Well, that can be a very dicey proposition, as there are many concerns here. What if the patient isn’t mentally or emotionally able to accurately report symptoms, if at all? What if the full constellation of symptoms has yet to present? What if the patient is a child or adolescent and his/her symptoms are changing by the minute? Oh, and by the way, the patient has to hope the clinician is a darned good diagnostician.

Yes, just now there are no diagnostic tools, like blood work and imaging, to tell the tale. And that’s a shame because there’s so very much at stake. Indeed, an incorrect diagnosis subjects a mind variance sufferer to prolonged misery, the horrifying manifestations of the wrong meds, and so much more. Really, can you imagine if the only way diabetes could be diagnosed is by hoping the patient and clinician are getting the symptom-story straight, and moving on to playing the “Match Game” with a book?

I find it incredibly exciting that research is now being conducted on objective lab-based mind variance diagnosis. And from everything I’ve read it appears as though the work is about to produce some dramatic breakthroughs. The research is focusing upon the prevalence and pattern of gene expression in mind variance sufferers. It’s all about genetic biomarkers, very unique chemical signatures. And extraordinarily fascinating is the fact that scientists have found ten genes that can be detected in the blood, which will soon provide the information necessary to generate accurate mind variance diagnoses.

Now, as wonderful as this news is, one has to play devil’s advocate and consider some ethical issues. I mean, it’s one thing for, say, insurance companies, employers, college admissions staff, the military, and the government to know about one’s hyperthyroidism. But having knowledge of one’s panic disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia is another matter altogether. Obviously, the combination of stigma and financial agendas could lead to some serious problems.

Well, these are matters that will definitely have to be resolved; however, for now how ‘bout we simply rejoice in some very positive research, and great news, for mind variance sufferers. Incidentally, the joy goes well beyond the diagnostics because the research is laying the groundwork for targeted and efficacious biochemical and psychotherapeutic treatment strategies and techniques. Very cool.

Author's Bio: 

After a winning bout with panic disorder Bill found his life's passion and work. So he earned his counseling credentials and is doing all he can to lend a hand to those having a tough time.

Bill authored a panic attack education and recovery eworkbook entitled, "Panic! ...and Poetic Justice," which is available on his website. And he now has a blog up and running, which is accessible through his website. Lots of good stuff going on and much more to come.