• The Feasibility of Diagnosing Psychiatric Disorders with Neuroimaging

      Ghias, Kubarah; Vitelli, Gianna; Peters, Melissa; Abbasi, Aleena; Sposit, Chelsea; Matton, Matthew (2021-05)
      In the past few years, the number of individuals seeking treatment for psychiatric disorders has increased significantly [1]. Mental illness statistics continue to rise year after year. In his 2010 book, Robert Whitaker reported that the number of mentally ill had tripled in the past two decades [2]. In 2019, 56.4% of individuals ages 18-25 received mental health treatment, compared to the 45.9% receiving treatment in 2008 [3]. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in persons aged 18-34. As of December 2020, Hedegaard and colleagues reported that suicide rates have increased by 35% since 1999. Furthermore, the report stated that 90% of the people who died by suicide were confirmed to have shown symptoms of mental illness [4]. These statistics are concerning and bring about a number of questions, one being the effectiveness of prescription drugs. Just how effective are these treatments? Furthermore, what limits improvement within the fields of psychiatry and psychology? One surprising limitation may be the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 classifies mental disorders using set symptom-based criteria and is the standard for clinical diagnoses. However, this manual does not come without fault and controversy. A growing number of researchers have cited concern about false positives that occur as a result of the Diagnostic Manual’s recently lowered diagnostic thresholds [5]. Neuroimaging, also known as brain scans, may be useful for improving diagnostic accuracy. Neuroimaging approaches involve assessing structural anatomy and functional activity. If health professionals can diagnose individuals based on brain abnormalities associated with psychiatric disorders, then there may be a lower chance of misdiagnosis and error. This article will explore neuroimaging literature to assess the feasibility of this approach. It will be organized by first considering current issues within the field of psychiatry and a review of neuroimaging methods before a discussion of potential strengths and limitations of the approach.