Recent progress in understanding diseases such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and depression mean that specialists can detect evidence that an individual could be susceptible many years ahead of the conditions taking hold. A computer test that was designed this year and checks memory and learning power to recognise people most at risk from dementia, should be routinely used for people as young as 60 in order to screen for the disease study workers said.
It is possible that fresh treatment options likely to be available over the next few years could be used to protect against Alzheimer’s taking hold when discovered quickly enough, it is thought. Examinations may also be developed to identify the initial signs and symptoms of disorders such as schizophrenia and depression in teenagers, which would enable earlier treatments.
A group of over 400 mental health specialists have asked for action along with investment in order to boost accessibility to proper care and treatment for neurological, mental and substance use problems. Scientists from Cambridge University as well as King’s College London stated that screening programmes need to be brought in to deal with the issue of the UK’s undiagnosed mental health conditions.
A spokesperson from the Alzheimer’s society stated that present diagnostic tests are usually not precise enough to determine early symptoms by screening individuals as young as 60, however the Society would encourage a discussion on the benefit of screening people over 75 for dementia. They said that any screening must be accompanied by more robust assessments prior to an accurate diagnosis being given. Additionally, they said that cognitive tests should not be employed as an alternative to seeking expert advice.