Blood Test for Stress Illness?

Bethesda, Maryland.  April 1.  The Center for Irreproducible Results at the National Institution of Health today announced a stunning breakthrough that is certain to benefit hundreds of millions of patients.  Dr. Freddie P. Ignobel reports that she has found a blood test that can reliably confirm when physical symptoms are caused by life stresses and not by a disease of an organ or a metabolic problem.

A simple test that can diagnose stress-related illness is a holy grail of psychosomatic medicine that has been sought for millennia.  Once a few issues with the test are resolved, millions of patients will no longer have to endure prolonged, uncomfortable, risky and expensive diagnostic evaluations as their medical clinician searches in vain for an organ disease to explain their symptoms.  Never again will physicians be able to ignore life stresses as a possible explanation of their patient’s illness.  At long last, every medical training program will be forced to recognize the importance of stress, the long-term consequences of a dysfunctional childhood and the ways in which mental health disorders can cause physical symptoms.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, there are a few problems with the test.  According to Dr Ignobel, the blood must be obtained from an artery that runs between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland and therefore requires robotic, stereotaxic needles passed through the skull.  Complications include bleeding into the brain, blindness due to nerve damage and poverty since the huge expense is not covered by insurance.

It will take time to resolve these dilemmas (possibly until April Fool’s Day next year).  However, Dr. Ignobel is optimistic that while her work is being perfected, the prospect of the test will encourage the medical profession to give psychosocial stress the attention it deserves and to get to know their patients as human beings.

[PS: In case clues above were not sufficient, I confess that  the stress illness blood test is an April Fool’s hoax.  Apologies for any disappointment.  See the blogs tagged with Stress History for the next best thing to this blood test.]

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