"t can be frustrating when you are suffering from a mental illness and have tried many different medications without benefit. Maybe you had intolerable side effects or maybe the medications just didn"t help. Maybe you just don"t want to spend a lot of time trying different medications to see which ones might be tolerated or work the best. This is when Pharmacogenetic testing might be helpful.
Pharmacogenetic testing looks at how your specific genes affect your body"s ability to metabolize, and in some cases respond, to different medications. Genes are what you inherit from your parents that gives you your unique characteristics, such as hair or eye color. Genes are made up of DNA. Much research is ongoing in psychiatry, examining how certain genes are not only expressed (aka become more active) when a person experiences certain situations such as childhood trauma, but also how particular gene types affect the response a person might have to a particular medication.
Pharmacogenetic testing cannot absolutely tell us which medication is going to be the most effective but it may help narrow down the choices. Testing will provide guidance on dose. For instance, depending on your genes, you may benefit from larger vs smaller doses of medications. It can also suggest which medications may cause more vs less side effects. Additionally, it can tell us if you have a particular serotonin transporter gene encoded by the SLC6A4 gene which means that SSRI"s may not be an effective treatment for you.
You might have heard about how problems with the MTHFR gene might affect mood and cause other health problems. MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This gene provides instructions for a particular enzyme which helps your body break down a substance called homocysteine. Too much homocysteine is implicated in many diseases including cardiovascular problems (heart attacks and strokes), depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, colon cancer and even migraines. The test we use at Catalyst Psychiatry in Corvallis, Oregon also looks at this gene. If you have a MTHFR gene variant that is not functioning well, taking methylated folate may help your symptoms. Although it likely will not be a cure-all, Catalyst Pyschiatry believes it is still good for people in the Willamette Valley to know if they have this variant."
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