Matching a person’s genetic profile to a diagnosed medical condition has the potential to transform the treatment of mental health.
Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for people with depression but the statistics on their effectiveness are worrying.
Research suggests that 38%, and possibly as many as 50%, of patients prescribed with anti-depressants do not benefit from the first drug they are treated with.
This leaves people struggling to cope with symptoms and often feeling increasingly desperate as the medication fails to provide relief. If people’s symptoms worsen, the implications can be serious.
A significant problem
One in four people experiences mental health issues in any given year, according to the charity Mind, so this is a significant problem.
A survey carried out every seven years in England (and last published in 2016) found that:
- 7.8 in every 100 people have mixed anxiety and depression
- As many as 20.6 people in every 100 experience suicidal thoughts
- 7.3 in every 100 self harm, and
- 6.7 in every 100 attempt suicide
In 2016, the NHS prescribed 64.7m antidepressants, an all-time high and up 3.7m on 2015.
At an average cost of £4.12, this represents a total cost of £266.6m.
If as many as 50% of first prescriptions prove to be ineffective, that is a lot of wasted money, aside from the impact on individual sufferers.
A different way of doing things
Genetic testing offers an alternative to the current “trial and error” approach to prescribing antidepressants. Geneticists have identified that a person’s unique genetic makeup influences whether or not a drug is likely to be effective and how much is a safe and effective dose.
The science of testing a person’s DNA to see which drugs are likely to work best and which may cause side-effects is called Pharmacogenomics. It lies at the heart of personalised medicine and is already starting to change the way that many medicines are prescribed, including antidepressants.
Genecept Assay: How it works
Myogenes is leading the way in genetic testing for mental health conditions. Our Genecept Assay test has been developed to help doctors to treat people with mental illness more effectively.
Using a simple cheek swab, it analyses a person’s genes and identifies variations that indicate which medications will work most effectively and how much is the optimum dose.
The test is effective for a wide range of psychiatric conditions including depression, anxiety, PTSD and schizophrenia.
Benefits of Genetic Testing for Depression and Mental Health Conditions
So, what are the benefits of genetic testing in the treatment of mental health conditions?
The most obvious benefit is that patients receive medication that works immediately without a prolonged search to pinpoint the ideal antidepressant for them. They can also be confident that the dosage prescribed is ideal for them and won’t result in unpleasant side effects. With their symptoms under control, patients can begin to take steps to rebuild their lives and put in place measures that will support improved mental health going forward.
There is also a substantial cost saving to be made, with a more targeted approach meaning that there is no more money wasted on prescribing antidepressants that don’t work.
The Genecept Assay test is available via a medical professional, such as your GP, as the results need to be properly analysed and discussed with you before medication can be prescribed.
In real life…
“My doctor used the information from the genetic testing results to prescribe me an antidepressant that I hadn’t yet tried, which would fill up those serotonin transporters more effectively than the countless others I had tried. Within a few weeks, I noticed that interacting with others took less effort, and I could focus my brain on things besides the pain I was feeling.”
For more information about the test speak to your GP, psychiatric consultant or clinician, or call the friendly team at Myogenes and we would be happy to answer your questions.