This test and its benefits aren’t widely known in my community so I find it imperative that others know there are options available in their treatment plan. Below is my story along with an overview of the test.:
Treating conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior is difficult. Each person’s depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, bipolar, PTSD, OCD, schizophrenia is unique to that individual. No one is textbook but they don’t seem to tell primary care providers that. And unfortunately, even if you share the same diagnosis as the next person, there isn’t necessarily one magical pill to help both of you… ever heard of DNA?
Following in suit with each of those diagnoses, there are a TON of medication options for whatever diagnosis that is engraved in your DNA. You’ve got your antidepressants, anxiolytics and hypnotics, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers (and probably more that I don’t know about). Your general practitioner is taught to do trial and error. In fact, this same provider may try two or even three medications at the same time – with one goal, help alleviate your symptoms. Unless you are seeing a psychiatrist that specializes in these medications, there is a 94.8% chance that your general practitioner has no clue (that statistic is based solely on my assumption). The point is, there are no guidelines on when to refer a patient to a psychiatry.
I don’t blame my general practitioner. There are no mandatory standards in the medical field that assist in the management of these medications. Her goal was to help me. So, when she prescribed a pill and it didn’t work, she upped the dose time after time – guess what, that made it worse. Then we’d try the next medication and the next medication, each time upping the dose time after time – not helping each time. Each trial, I got worse. She prescribed four SSRI’s within six months with no tapering off and building up the next dose.
My brain was scrambled… worse than scrambled eggs though… more like a casserole with scrambled eggs and neurons as the messy and sometimes burnt cheese.
I went through Hell and back and then Hell and back. I found the pits of despair, not a pretty place if you’ve never visited. I had no control of my emotions. I could feel that my mind and body were not connected. I could feel neurons slamming into each other in my brain. I had auditory and visual hallucinations. Ideations of suicide.
You know what the real shit kicker is? I fluctuated between manic and depressive behavior that cycled every 3-4 days. I learned to not trust myself with any thought. When I was manic, I believed I couldn’t have rational thoughts even though I felt healthy. I never could control any of my actions. Maybe my brain was temporarily abducted by aliens that fed on manic-depressive symptoms (but then we’d all be abducted – there must be a lot of aliens – perhaps my theory is incorrect).
Luckily, a good friend who came into my life not long before this, referred a provider to me. I ended up researching this clinic and psychiatrists within the clinic, myself. I saw this specialist within 2 weeks of my call.
It took me a year and a half to get to this point of my medical disaster. On my first appointment, my psychiatrist diagnosed me as “chemically induced bipolar-II” with severe depression and anxiety. She stated this caused a subconscious belief of PTSD due to my persistent suffering. This is when she brought my attention to genetics…
I am aware that each person has unique DNA. It is what makes you, you and me, me. At a basic level, I am familiar that different genetic mutations can exist. But no one tells you that your DNA composition carries unique genetic “instructions” directly affecting how you process mood, thinking, and behavior medications.
Mind blown…except with no splash from the scrambled eggs. Or is it splat? Maybe only the casserole splats.
(What drives me even more insane, is that I specifically remember my therapist/counselor talking about this genetic test and the MTHFR mutation, a folate deficiency. I asked for this test from my general practitioner three different times. The general practitioner didn’t believe it produced “accurate” results. But that is neither here nor there at this point.)
This test will analyze your DNA to identify specific genetic variants that affect how you respond to over 55 different psychiatric medications. It allows you and your provider to stop throwing a dart at a board, randomly, in the dark. Instead, it will identify what medication(s) is right for you. This test will allow a personalized treatment plan in treating YOUR symptoms.
Long story short, this test will break down each medication to fall into one of three categories (red is equivalent to “significant gene-drug interaction”; yellow is the equivalent to “moderate drug interaction”; and, green is equivalent to “use as directed”). Obviously, green is good and red is bad (like a stop light, unless you get the thrill from adrenaline and have a death wish).
The test I took from a company called GeneSight, went into GREAT detail about each gene that processes each medication, what the risks are, and how medications interact with one another if you are treated with multiple meds. When she started using acronyms like the HTR2A gene or the CYP2B6 gene – I didn’t care what they meant unless it would stabilize my moods. I did learn that your liver plays a major role in how you process psychiatric medications due to different pathways that send the drug to your brain. This is how genetics are involved because it determines how you process medications.
This is where a psychiatrist comes into the picture because they interpret the test for you and prescribe the best treatment for YOUR care plan. GeneSight charged me $150 for this test and they offer an option to fill out a financial aid form.
Don’t suffer any longer. Find a provider in your area that does this test!
Here are two companies that provide this type of test: