Doing better with existing resources2022-01-22

Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable—the art of the next best.

-Otto von Bismarck

Mental health diagnosis suffers from a lack of data that is quantitative and longitudinal. Patients are asked at their appointments to remember how they felt and what they thought in the weeks or months preceding an appointment. There is hope that brain imaging or implanted electrodes will provide insights in the future. Using simple science-based apps to track things between appointments is a simple solution to this problem right now.

Mental health treatment suffers from a lack of molecular data to match people with the right medications, and objectively monitor their response to treatment. There is hope that large-scale populational genetic studies coupled with medical records will provide unexpected insights in the future. Using blood tests with RNA or protein biomarkers is a way to solve this problem right now.

The need for novel medications for mental health is rightly invoked. There is hope that new approaches such as psychedelic-derived compounds will provide new options in the future. Using the proper matching of patients with existing psychiatric medications, and the repurposing for mental health of existing medications used for other medical conditions, are faster and safer routes to immediate progress.

Others and us have developed science- based approaches and solutions along the lines outlined above. 80% of progress that matters to patients can be made by proximal existing solutions, and only 20% need be by enticing but distant novel insights.

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