Can Genetic Testing Help Find The Antidepressant That Works For You?

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Can Genetic Testing Help Find The Antidepressant That Works For You?

We have already spoken at length in previous articles about how genetics can impact your mental health. There is no doubt that there is a genetic component to mental illnesses. Now, there are genetic tests that can help match a patient to an antidepressant that will work for them. Normally, prescribing antidepressants has been trial and error. Using the patient’s reported symptoms and some family history, a psychiatrist prescribes what they think will work best. If the first choice doesn’t work, they go onto the second choice, then the third, and so on. This new genetic test, however, has been around since 2010 and it helps psychiatrists predict how a patient will react to certain antidepressants based on their genetic makeup. Patients who used this test were “50% more likely to likely to achieve remission after eight weeks, compared with other patients,” Time Magazine’s Alice Park reported. 

How Does It Work?

Genetic testing for depression is pretty straightforward. The test looks at 56 different antidepressants and how 12 genes process those medications. The test analyzes “These gene codes for such things as enzymes that break down key chemicals in the medications, as well as receptors that respond to brain chemicals targeted by the antidepressants,” Park writes in “A Genetic Test For Depression” from Time Magazine. From there, the genetic testing splits up antidepressant medication into three different groups: green, yellow, and red. Here is a little bit more from Park about how these color categories differ:

“Green drugs, for example, are medications that show no potential interaction with a person’s genes; these medications will likely cause few or no side effects. Yellow drugs may be used, but they have some gene-drug interactions that would lead to side effects. Red labels indicate drugs that the person should not be prescribed; these medications are thought to lead only to adverse reactions and little effective treatment.”

Is It For Real?

Some psychiatrists and other professionals are wary about genetic testing for finding antidepressants. They warn that it may not work as well as it is intended to. However, John Greden, an executive director of the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Depression Center articulates to Park that “The test is not necessarily designed to guide doctors to the ‘right’ [antidepressants] for treating an individual person’s depression; it’s more useful in helping people navigate away from [antidepressants] that might cause them to experience bad side effects.” Greden and other professionals agree that genetic testing is a tool that should be used to help medical professionals in prescribing medications, but it should not be the be-all-end-all. 

If you are suffering from depression and are looking for help, please do not hesitate to contact Pinnacle Recovery at 1-866-301-0573. Our trained and experienced staff is here to help you through your tough times. Call us today — you won’t be disappointed. 

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