Deep learning for the prediction of treatment response in depression

Letizia Squarcina, Filippo Maria Villa, Maria Nobile, Enrico Grisan, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Mood disorders are characterized by heterogeneity in severity, symptoms and treatment response. The possibility of selecting the correct therapy on the basis of patient-specific biomarker may be a considerable step towards personalized psychiatry. Machine learning methods are gaining increasing popularity in the medical field. Once trained, the possibility to consider single patients in the analyses instead of whole groups makes them particularly appealing to investigate treatment response. Deep learning, a branch of machine learning, lately gained attention, due to its effectiveness in dealing with large neuroimaging data and to integrate them with clinical, molecular or -omics biomarkers. Methods: In this mini-review, we summarize studies that use deep learning methods to predict response to treatment in depression. We performed a bibliographic search on PUBMED, Google Scholar and Web of Science using the terms “psychiatry”, “mood disorder”, “depression”, “treatment”, “deep learning”, “neural networks”. Only studies considering patients’ datasets are considered. Results: Eight studies met the inclusion criteria. Accuracies in prediction of response to therapy were considerably high in all studies, but results may be not easy to interpret. Limitations: The major limitation for the current studies is the small sample size, which constitutes an issue for machine learning methods. Conclusions: Deep learning shows promising results in terms of prediction of treatment response, often outperforming regression methods and reaching accuracies of around 80%. This could be of great help towards personalized medicine. However, more efforts are needed in terms of increasing datasets size and improved interpretability of results.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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