To mark Children’s Mental Health Week, we’re addressing a question we are asked frequently which is “how can we better help children with mental health conditions?”
How medication is affected by genes
As a parent, it is hard to see your child suffering from conditions like anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism or other mental health problems. Medication can provide relief from symptoms, however, not all medication helps for every kind of condition. What many people don’t realise is that our genes play a part in determining how we respond to medication. So, what can work well for one person may not be effective for another and what may be free from side-effects for one, may cause unwanted side effects for someone else.
Trying to find the right drug, or combination of drugs, to treat a mental health condition is often a process of trial and error. In the meantime, the child may experience a worsening of symptoms or suffer unpleasant side-effects.
However, there is an alternative that is helping doctors to pinpoint the right treatments more quickly and effectively, without having to rely on trial and error.
Pharmacogenomics: Genetic testing for psychiatric conditions
Genetic testing provides a way of optimising treatment decisions for people with mental health problems. It works like this.
Using a swab that is obtained painlessly from inside the patient’s cheek, the Genomind laboratory can test for specific genetic markers. These markers show which treatments are likely to be effective, what the optimum dosage will be, and which will cause unwanted side-effects.
Effectively, this takes the guesswork out of prescribing and allows doctors to prescribe medications that will offer the fastest, most effective way for a child to feel better without experiencing side-effects.
The PGX-Psychiatry test
Myogenes offers the PGX-Psychiatry genetic test which has been shown in peer-reviewed studies to improve patient outcomes, as well as reducing medical costs. This is because it is costly to prescribe drugs that prove ineffective and to have to keep testing alternatives.
Once the patient’s sample has been analysed in the laboratory, a detailed report is sent to their doctor or psychiatric consultant, outlining the findings and identifying the drugs most likely to prove effective in treating the patient’s symptoms.
Clinicians are offered a free psychopharmacogenomic consultation to help them understand the findings more completely and use the information to improve the care of their patient.
What it is used for
As parents, it is natural to want our children to get better as quickly as possible. Genetic testing is quick and accurate and provides greater clarity about how to treat their condition. It has shown to be effective in a wide range of different psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, PTSD, autism, schizophrenia, chronic pain and substance abuse.