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Taste 'could be depression medication key'

20th December 2006

According to new research, the link between depression and taste could assist doctors in finding the right treatments for depressed patients.

Simple taste tests could potentially be used to help find the most appropriate drug for a particular patient, according to the team from the University of Bristol.

It stems from the finding, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, that people are more sensitive to certain tastes according to the presence of mood-impacting chemicals in their blood.

The team's lead psychiatrist, Dr Jan Melichar, described the results as "very exciting".

"Until now we have had no easy way of deciding which is the best medication for depression. As a result, we get it right about 60 to 80 per cent of the time.

"It then takes up to four weeks to see if the drug is working, or if we need to change it," added Dr Melichar. "However, with a taste test, we may be able to get it right first time."

Researchers suspect that this link between the neurotransmitters serotonin and noradrenaline and taste function may explain the loss of appetite common to depression sufferers.