Treating mental health disorders takes time and, traditionally, trial-and-error. Not everyone responds to the same drugs, and many people have to go through months or years of testing new pharmaceuticals to get results
Psychiatry is one of the best evidence-based methods of treating common mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, bipolar, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
The difficulty for clinicians prescribing psychiatric medications comes from differences between people. Each person has a unique metabolism, genetic makeup, weight, age, and other factors. Medications produce different results as a result.
These differences lead many people to discontinue their medications from their healthcare provider because of side effects and poor outcomes. Further, people lose faith in medicine to help their mental health when medications don’t work as planned. Many stop treatment altogether, even though they would get relief after finding an effective medication for them.
With GeneSight psychotropic testing, much of the usual guesswork is removed, giving your healthcare provider more information about which medications help your health.
What is GeneSight Testing?
GeneSight testing is a “pharmacogenomic test” made by Assurex Health and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It checks your genes to determine whether psychiatric medications will benefit you. Some genes respond positively to psychiatric medications; others create negative responses and unexpected side effects.
To improve the treatment process, GeneSight.com says its tests look at 12 genes to find the fitness of common medications for your genome variant. The test accurately identifies your genes and analyzes them against 57 psychiatric medications. This gives healthcare providers insight into the medications that work best for you and increase the chance of positive, therapeutic results.
GeneSight testing works for all kinds of conditions since everyone has a genotype and enzymes to analyze for gene-drug interactions. The investigational test helps make final treatment decisions and improve patient outcomes for many difficult-to-treat disorders:
- major depressive disorder (MDD)
- anxiety disorders
- pain management
How Does GeneSight Testing Work?
GeneSight testing is a simple process. It starts with a cheek swab to collect your DNA. The swab is quick, painless, and captures the genetic information needed. GeneSight collects the sample for lab analysis. Technicians at GeneSight determine the expression of 12 key genes interacting with psychiatric medication.
Your physician receives these test results to determine the safest and most effective medications and beginning doses.
GeneSight testing breaks medications down into three categories to help improve remission rates through better prescriptions:
- Medications to use as directed
- Medications with gene-drug interactions
- Medications with severe gene-drug interactions
These classes make it easy and intuitive for your physician to prescribe the right medication the first time rather than going through extensive trial-and-error.
For instance, to balance serotonin, your doctor would traditionally need to try several medications, but, with GeneSight information, the doctor can choose the most promising medication from the “use as directed“ list. This is the benefit of this kind of “pharmacodynamics” help to push patient response.
Gene-drug interactions are well-studied. For instance, it is established science in the medical community that people with red hair typically require higher doses of painkillers or anesthetics.
This disparity isn’t a result of having red hair itself but a result of the MC1R gene variation. This gene variation is much more prevalent in redheads than in the general population and can make people more resistant to the effects of opioid painkillers.
Scientific studies into gene-drug interactions have found many more effects. The FDA lists several known gene-drug interactions on their website and the expected clinical variance as a result. GeneSight testing brings this data about an individual’s genes into clinical practice, producing a guide for psychiatric medications.
The effects of gene-drug interactions vary:
- Increased risk for side effects
- Difference in concentrations
- Unique dosage requirements
- Recommendations for co-occurring conditions
While gene-drug interactions have been known, only recently have tools like GeneSight been able to guide the prescription process.
How GeneSight Testing Helps with Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment is complex. Particularly for people with co-occurring mental health disorders, treating the full range of emotional and mental health concerns is an essential part of effective addiction treatment.
Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration show that 37.9% of all people with substance use disorders also experience mental illness, showing the need for quality dual-diagnosis treatment to adequately treat substance use disorders.
Many people who start addiction treatment are unaware that they have a co-occurring mental illness. Their substance use can hide the symptoms of a mental health disorder. They may confuse the symptoms of mental illness as a side effect of their addiction and never receive treatment for a co-occurring disorder.
Substance use disorders can also begin as an attempt to self-medicate the symptoms of mental illness. People experiencing symptoms like depression, fatigue, grief, or anxiety may turn to substance use to cope.
While this may provide short-term relief, prolonged substance use results in a worsening of symptoms over time. As tolerance builds, substances provide less and less relief for symptoms, and withdrawal effects can make these problems even worse, forming dependency.
Self-treatment can quickly turn into a destructive spiral. Unprescribed drugs or excessive alcohol used to treat mental illness often worsen of the problem. More substances have to be used to achieve the desired effect, resulting in a substance use disorder.
Dual-diagnosis treatment treats mental illness and substance use disorders at once. Counseling and psychiatric professionals work with you to manage both mental health and addiction symptoms using proven methods:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Psychiatric medication
- Relapse-prevention programs
- Skills training
- Medication-assisted treatment
GeneSight testing helps this process. Including genetic testing early in the process, your treatment can start addressing mental health disorders more directly. The need to try several medications to get results is minimized, and people can start feeling better sooner.
Effectiveness of Psychiatric Medications
Psychiatric medications are one of the most effective methods of treating mental health disorders, particularly when they are combined with targeted therapies and counseling. The most common disorders to co-occur with addiction are well-known:
- Posttraumatic stress disorders
- Bipolar disorder
Effective psychiatric medications exist for these disorders and provide real relief from troubling symptoms.
GeneSight for Depression
Medication to treat depression is highly effective. In a large systematic review that looked at over 13,000 patients, the combination of psychotherapy and targeted medications reduced the symptoms of depression by 66 percent in clinical studies. Both treatments cut depressive symptoms.
Yet, choosing the right medication is essential to producing these results. With several antidepressant medications, it can take weeks or months to produce a therapeutic effect.
If the right medication isn’t selected at the start, this time is essentially wasted, leading to unnecessary suffering. Using GeneSight, psychotropic medications can be selected more efficiently, increasing the likelihood that you find a medication that works the first time.
GeneSight for Anxiety
Using medications to treat anxiety disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder, is also highly effective. Treating anxiety in people with substance use disorders can be complicated because many anxiety medications are commonly misused.
Alternative medications are available, but people respond differently. GeneSight tests reveal which medications can be most effective while avoiding serious gene-drug interactions and side effects.
Use GeneSight at Haven Detox
The Haven Detox-New England brings compassionate support to people struggling with substance use disorder and mental illness through GeneSight alongside medication-assisted treatment, medically supervised detoxification, and more programs.
Quicker, more effective recovery is possible. Call (844) 933-4145 for guidance from our caring specialists.