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Gene Testing for Mental Health Explained

Gene testing for mental health allows you to avoid drugs that are more likely to produce unpleasant side effects and bad responses.

Finding the proper drug to treat mental illnesses like anxiety or depression may take months or years. While some people respond well to the initial treatments, others may not see any improvement. Some people may have severe adverse effects like serotonin syndrome or tardive dyskinesia.

This conflict paved the way for a new type of testing: GeneSight. It assesses the body’s capacity to metabolize certain drugs. 

Based on a patient’s DNA, genetic testing for mental health may help a clinician direct a patient to a medicine with a lesser probability of causing unpleasant side effects.

Keep reading the article to learn more about gene testing for mental health.

Key Takeaways

Gene testing is a psychiatric test that shows you and your doctor how your specific genes may influence your body’s ability to react to particular medications. This article will inform you:

  • Gene testing allows you to avoid drugs that are more likely to produce unpleasant side effects and bad responses.
  • Doctors can suggest this genetic testing for people with a diagnosed mental illness like depression, anxiety, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • A cotton swab of cells from the inside of your cheek is taken and sent to a laboratory, which analyzes your DNA for the specific biomarkers linked with various mental health medical conditions.

Indiana Center for Recovery will help you know more about genetic testing and how it may benefit you. Call us at (844) 650-0064 and speak with one of our mental health professionals.

GeneSight Genetic Testing

The GeneSight psychotropic test is pharmacogenomic. It means the test examines how a person’s key genes influence mediation results. This test evaluates key differences in your DNA to predict how some drugs may impact you. 

In other words, the results of this test will tell your doctor how your body may react to drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), and other mental health problems.

Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic genes will be evaluated using GeneSight testing. 

Pharmacokinetic genes inform physicians how your body will break down the drugs. Pharmacodynamic genes, on the other hand, describe what the medicine does to the body. That enables physicians to determine which drugs may cause harmful effects in you.

With GeneSight testing, your doctor can avoid guessing and locate the right prescription for your mental health concerns the first time. 

People who have suffered side effects (or a lack of progress in symptoms) on past treatments may be motivated to conduct genetic testing to find answers. When starting or switching psychiatric drugs, consult with your healthcare professional.

How Gene Testing for Mental Health Works

To begin, your DNA will be collected by healthcare practitioners. This sample may be collected by a simple buccal swab (inside of your cheek), or it may be collected at home using a patient collection kit.

Your DNA sample will then be sent to a lab for examination by healthcare specialists. At this time, the medical expert will examine changes in your DNA that may affect certain enzymes that assist your body in the processing of drugs.

After receiving the results, your doctor will assess the findings and determine whether the drugs contain the necessary chemical ingredients to function properly in your body.

What Genesight Can Determine

GeneSight predicts how your body will break down or modify a prescription based on particular enzymes produced by your liver.

GeneSight examines changes in 14 genes that may alter how the body breaks down or reacts to drugs. The test findings show how your body may break down:

  • Hypnotics.
  • Anxiolytics.
  • Antipsychotics.
  • Mood elevators.
  • Antidepressants.

The test categorizes these drugs into three columns based on how they react in your body. These classifications are as follows:

  • Use as directed (in green).
  • Moderate gene-medication interaction (in yellow).
  • Considerable gene-medication interaction (in red).

Benefits of Genesight Testing for Mental Health

Pharmacogenetic tests, like Genesight testing, provide many advantages for mental illness and addiction treatment. Doctors can drastically shorten your treatment time by medically examining DNA and genetic data.

Rather than needing to test ten different drugs before finding the appropriate one, Genesight allows you to start a helpful medication immediately. This gives those suffering from mental illnesses and addiction more time to focus on therapy.

The following are some of the key benefits of Genesight testing for mental health:

Improved Insight

GeneSight can also give crucial prescriber information for patients who have tried many drugs and failed to find the right fit.

The FDA has issued a recent study outlining when science supports using pharmacogenetics to aid drug selection. Individuals can use the report to choose if testing for insight is the right course of action.


Mahler also mentioned that seeing on paper that a person’s troubles while taking drugs may not be in their mind may be uplifting. 

Small-scale research published in 2012 found that people with major depressive disorder (MDD) who underwent GeneSight testing to discover the right medication improved their symptoms in eight weeks.

Furthermore, the following are some more benefits of genetic testing for mental health:

  • Avoiding drugs that will have no effect.
  • Avoiding drugs that can lead you to have negative side effects
  • Prescriptions are safer as physicians know which different medications and dosages their patients will react to.
  • You will save time, money, and the worry of trying many drugs before finding the suitable one.
  • Because of gene testing and review, new and more effective drugs for particular illnesses are being developed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can your genetic test for mental illness?

Yes, it is possible to get a genetic test for mental illness. However, it is not always helpful, as genetic testing for mental illness is complex. Many mental disorders, like major depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, have complex genetic components and are influenced by environmental factors.
Genetic testing can explain a person’s risk of developing many psychiatric disorders. However, it cannot predict whether or not they will actually develop the condition. 
Moreover, pharmacogenomic testing for mental health medical issues is not widely available or routinely used in clinical practice.

What does genetic testing show for mental health?

Genetic testing for mental health can provide information about a person’s genetic risk for developing a particular mental disease. 
Pharmacogenetic testing involves analyzing a person’s DNA to identify genetic variations linked to particular drug reactions to medications like antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.
Genetic testing may also be used to guide tailored treatment plans for persons with a mental health disorder. For example, an accurate genetic test may reveal whether a person is more likely to respond to a certain medication or experience side effects from a particular drug.

Why would a psychiatrist order genetic testing?

A psychiatrist may order genetic testing for various reasons. One common reason is to help diagnose and treat certain mental health disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, which are believed to have a genetic component. 
Genetic testing can give information about specific genetic variations that may increase a person’s risk of developing these disorders.
Another reason a psychiatrist may order genetic testing is to inform treatment decisions. For example, certain genetic variations may affect how a person metabolizes some mental health medications, which can impact the effectiveness and potential side effects. 
By identifying these genetic variations, psychiatrists can offer tailored treatment plans to the patient’s needs.

Genetic Testing at Indiana Center for Recovery

If you or someone you love has struggled to find a suitable prescription for mental health or addiction difficulties, GeneSight testing may be for you.

With a pharmacogenetic test, like GeneSight at Indiana Center for Recovery, you can skip the process of trying numerous drugs. With the help of this test, we’ll focus on finding one that works for you the first time.

We have various treatment approaches like integrated care, CBT, EMDR, detox, and more! Our healthcare providers will help you learn more about GeneSight testing. 

Call us now at (844) 650-0064 to talk with one of our medical experts.