The Missing Link between Clinical States and Biomarkers in Mental Disorders

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Abstract

Current diagnostic definitions of psychiatric disorders based on collections of symptoms encompass very heterogeneous populations and are thus likely to yield spurious results when exploring biological correlates of mental disturbances. It has been suggested that large studies of biomarkers across diagnostic entities may yield improved clinical information. Such a view is based on the concept of assessment as a collection of symptoms devoid of any clinical judgment and interpretation. Yet, important advances have been made in recent years in clinimetrics, the science of clinical judgment. The current clinical taxonomy in psychiatry, which emphasizes reliability at the cost of clinical validity, does not include effects of comorbid conditions, timing of phenomena, rate of progression of an illness, responses to previous treatments, and other clinical distinctions that demarcate major prognostic and therapeutic differences among patients who otherwise seem to be deceptively similar since they share the same psychiatric diagnosis. Clinimetrics may provide the missing link between clinical states and biomarkers in psychiatry, building pathophysiological bridges from clinical manifestations to their neurobiological counterparts.

© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel

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