Anyone else tired of playing medication roulette? Or watching a loved one struggle to manage their time and money trying new medication trials without the promise of efficacy? Pop a pill a day, wait a month, endure the side effects and repeat. Only the lucky ones hit the jackpot the first time around.
Fortunately, things have started to change!
By doing a simple cheek swab, you can now find out how your body specifically processes drugs and which types of drugs may benefit you the most.
These genetic tests analyze a panel of key genes that can be useful when determining which medications to take for a wide range of psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD and substance abuse. The test results not only indicate which class of medications (i.e., SSRI, SNRI, Atypicals, TCAs) are most appropriate for you, but also which specific medications in each class are clinically indicated with corresponding dosing guidelines.
Let’s say you have moderate to severe depression. You’ve made all the lifestyle changes you can manage and are nearly close enough to your doc to send him a Christmas card this year. But 9 months and 3 medications later you’re still better friends with your couch than other humans and now you’ve somehow gained 15 pounds and no longer get excited when your husband climbs into bed next to you. Instead of rolling the dice and picking the subsequent medication on the list (hoping the next round of side effects don’t include hair loss!) you can now visit your psychiatrist and ask him to order a genetic test. The test results may tell you your genes interact better with a completely different class of antidepressant medications than you’ve been taking. Or, possibly that you have a MTHFR gene deficiency that may benefit from a specialized supplement. The test could also tell you that your body requires a significantly lower or higher dose than is commonly recommend for a certain drug, which may alleviate adverse effects of medications. Or maybe (groan) your body requires greater amounts of physical activity, which benefits the BDNF protein and may contribute to improvements in working memory and cognition.
Genetic testing allows all individuals to gain insight into their genetic makeup and how their body processes medications. Genomind is one genetic testing company whose recent studies report that 91% of patients who have failed at least two medications in the past have experienced improvement with treatment guided by the test.
However, all good things must come with a caveat. While genetic testing can indicate which medications may be clinically preferred over others, patients may still experience unexpected results. You may have taken Prozac for the past 15 years with some benefit only to find the genetic test indicates this is not a viable drug for you.
While the information that we receive from our genes doesn’t always align with clinical experience, utilizing genetic testing as a method of personalizing mental health care is a certainly step in the right direction. Just as our individual brain chemistry and experiences rarely fit into cookie-cutter boxes, neither should our approach to prescribing medications.
To learn more about the genetic testing process, visit the Genomind website: https://genomind.com/patient-faq/