Major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, major depressive and bipolar disorders are severe, chronic and debilitating, and are associated with high disease burden and healthcare costs. Currently, diagnoses of these disorders rely on interview-based assessments of subjective self-reported symptoms. Early diagnosis is difficult, misdiagnosis is a frequent occurrence and there are no objective tests that aid in the prediction of individual responses to treatment. Consequently, validated biomarkers are urgently needed to help address these unmet clinical needs. Historically, psychiatric disorders are viewed as brain disorders and consequently only a few researchers have as yet evaluated systemic changes in psychiatric patients. However, promising research has begun to challenge this concept and there is an increasing awareness that disease-related changes can be traced in the peripheral system which may even be involved in the precipitation of disease onset and course. Converging evidence from molecular profiling analysis of blood serum/plasma have revealed robust molecular changes in psychiatric patients, suggesting that these disorders may be detectable in other systems of the body such as the circulating blood. In this review, we discuss the current clinical needs in psychiatry, highlight the importance of biomarkers in the field, and review a representative selection of biomarker studies to highlight opportunities for the implementation of personalized medicine approaches in the field of psychiatry. It is anticipated that the implementation of validated biomarker tests will not only improve the diagnosis and more effective treatment of psychiatric patients, but also improve prognosis and disease outcome. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.