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GeneSight Testing available (learn what it can and cannot predict)

25-Apr-2019 By NAMI El Dorado County Board Member

Currently, genetic testing cannot accurately predict your risk of developing a mental health disorder. If a disease runs in your family, your health care professional can tell you if it’s the kind of illness that can be detected through genetic testing.  Brain research is fascinating and helping to pin-point improved treatments and hopefully one day a cure.   

GeneSight.com is ….   The Mayo Medical Clinic provides a very good summation about GeneSight.

We observe that GeneSight testing is being promoted on flyers across Barton Psychiatry, and many other neighboring hospitals.    Even El Dorado County Psychiatric Health Facility is starting to provide this testing.

We observe that the basis for the initial GeneSight research was aimed at 5 receptors (SERATONIN receptors.).  We do not yet see DOPAMINE receptors a part of the equation.  Still, that day will come and having some information may be useful in the quest for finding an optimum medication.   Dr. Nurmi states “pharmacogenomics testing is best reserved for patients who have had an inadequate response to therapy or, in the case of poor metabolizers, have had unacceptable adverse events. By attempting to look at a single or a limited number of variants in which to guide choice of medication in psychiatric disease, pharmacogenomics testing is being “vastly oversimplified.”  In Feb 2018 Clinical Psychiatry News reported that pharmacogenomic testing is not ready for prime time: read article here.

One of our NAMI friends living with schizophrenia recently relapsed.  He was cannabis free for a very long while then a former co-worker gave him some high dose THC as a holiday gift.   This coworker is ignorant in relapse management of schizophrenia and that those with serious addiction are challenged in saying no in the early years of addiction management.   That said, his schizophrenia relapse would last over a month.  The doctors had some difficulty finding an antipsychotic to stop the psychosis.  The psychosis is what causes brain damage (loss of gray/white matter.).   This is because for those living with mental illnesses that include psychosis – cannabis adversely impacts some of the same brain’s receptors that anti-psychotic medication are trying to address.   This is akin to trying to stop the bleeding on a hemophilia patient with deep internal cuts.

Finally Invega was found to help.  Invega treats the D2 and D3 (dopamine) receptors and more.  Other anti-psychotics such as Abilify or the like treat different and important receptors.   The thing that is interesting is that every person has a unique set of receptors that require treatment but the science is not yet there to get a perfect recipe yet so there is some trial and error involved.   This can be frustrating for patients and families.    And, this is yet another example of where family input/perspective can be so valuable in helping the treatment team know what is and is not working.

We do not claim to be experts in medications or specific treatments.  We rely on expert doctors coupled with expert family perspective speaking on behalf of our loved ones who often are unable to speak for themselves particularly in the depths of psychosis.

We know genetic pre-disposition plays the largest role in whether one has a pre-disposition to development of a mental illness.  Addiction: 50-60%; ADHD: 80%; Schizophrenia 75%; Bi-Polar 80%; Depression 40% – these are average percentages where those who have been diagnosed with one of these serious illnesses have had a genetic pre-disposition.   If you are feeling worried that your father was a cocaine addict and you might become an addict too then read this from BBRFoundation.org.

One NAMI El Dorado County board member stated

“We had discussed Gene Sight Testing last June when my son was hospitalized, and 3 Psychiatrists had 3 opinions about Anti-psychotic my son should take. The attending Psychiatrist chose the direction we went in for the next 6 months. We have since changed.   Finally one PHF leader started implementing Gene Sight Testing.  Every Psychiatrist the two of us had talked to would not use it. The Gene Sight Testing group knew the new PHF psychiatrist, Dr. Motl, and claimed he had turned around the usage of it in Arizona for the positive.   We are feeling encouraged.”

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