Doctor with syringe is taking blood for test
Project Type - Pilot Projects

Early Identification of Neurodegenerative Dementias in Psychiatry Clinics

Developing an approach for early and accurate identification of dementias


Blood tests may identify early signs of dementia in individuals with psychiatric complaints. Dementia affects behavior, and sometimes in dementia, the behaviors change even before our thinking. In Alzheimer’s disease, mood and sleep problems may occur before the memory is impaired. In Frontotemporal Dementia, behavior and personality changes are the characteristics of the disease and many times the individuals are wrongfully diagnosed as having psychiatric disorders. The resemblance between early signs of dementia and psychiatric disorders may cause confusion in physicians, resulting in unnecessary testing, a delay in the diagnosis and potential inappropriate treatment for affected individuals. It is apparent that the diagnostic workup needs to be improved. There are recently developed blood tests with very promising results for accurate identification of dementias. If we use these blood tests rationally in psychiatry clinics, then we may be able to identify dementias and prevent wrong diagnoses. Moreover, we may catch dementia related changes early even before the thinking is impaired. This will give physicians the opportunity to step into the dementia process early with effective interventions that will hopefully be available in the near future. So the question remains, as to whom to apply the blood tests. If we use these tests on all individuals at psychiatry clinics, we would use many tests unnecessarily because most do not have dementia. We need something to guide us.

Project Details

In this study, we will test two constructs that aim for the early identification of dementias through psychiatric symptoms. We will test whether these constructs are frequent among individuals with psychiatric diagnoses; whether what they point to is actually dementia; and what these blood tests really tell us in individuals with psychiatric disorders, whether they will be able to catch those with underlying dementias. We will see the brain images, evaluate the test scores and the psychiatric status of our participants to better understand the nature of their complaints. We believe using blood tests efficiently will help with early and accurate identification of dementias, we just need to figure out how best to apply these. We will then be able to prevent misdiagnosis, inappropriate treatments and also provide these individuals with the opportunity to try prevention and intervention strategies that would slow down the disease process.