How Genetic Testing Is Used in Psychiatry

The good news is that most mental health conditions are highly treatable, especially with all of the medications available to help manage symptoms. However, it can be challenging to find the ideal medications for an individual, because everyone can respond to them in different ways. 

In the past, finding the right medications involved a lot of trial and error. To further complicate things, it also takes some medications a while before they start working. So in some cases, it can take months or years to get results. Fortunately, genetic testing is changing that.

Our providers at Bowman Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California, use genetic testing to provide more precise medication management and psychiatric care from the very beginning. In this blog, they explain why treating mental illness can be challenging and how genetic testing is helping providers overcome those challenges.

The challenges of treating mental illness

Mental illness is a common problem, affecting an estimated one in five American adults. However, it can be challenging to diagnose and treat. 

There are numerous mental health conditions — such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and posttraumatic stress disorder — and their symptoms can vary from person to person. Plus, people can develop mental health disorders at any time in life and have more than one at the same time. 

To further complicate things, there are numerous medications that can be used to treat the symptoms seen with psychiatric conditions. Four common drug classifications include:

Within each of these classes are numerous formulas that can provide fast or long-term relief. On top of that, each medication can come with different side effects and require different dosages to provide relief. Some people also need multiple medications, depending on their symptoms and diagnosis.

The good news is that genetic testing is helping to remove the guesswork, so you can get the best medication and dosages when you start treatment. 

How genetic testing is helping in the treatment of mental illness

You inherit genetic material — specifically chromosomes, DNA, and proteins — from each of your parents. These components influence all of your characteristics, such as your eye color, blood type, and metabolism. You can also have genes linked to certain diseases, such as breast cancer. 

Genetic testing looks closely at this material to confirm or rule out potential disorders or physiological responses. In psychiatry, we use genetic testing to gather specific pieces of information about how your body processes medications.

First, pharmacokinetics tells us how your body metabolizes certain drugs, which can help with dosing. We also look at pharmacodynamics. This information provides insights into how well a medication may work for you and the likelihood of it causing side effects.

As a result, genetic testing enables us to tailor the medications in your treatment plan to your unique needs from the very beginning. Genetic testing can shorten the duration of the trial periods and help doctors avoid prescribing medications that could cause additional side effects. In summary, genetic testing can help you find relief from your symptoms faster and decrease your risks for adverse reactions.

Do you want to see how genetic testing can help you manage your mental health disorder? To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with Bowman Medical Group today.

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