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Depression, Drugs & DNA

When diagnosed with Clinical Depression, my doctor recommended medication to help the illness. The art of medication management can challenge professionals who need to find the right drug and dosage that will be effective for treatment. It’s frustrating for patients combating the effects of depression when their medication doesn’t quite alleviate the symptoms. Part of this cocktail of drugs can also cause intolerable side effects

·      Sleepiness

·      Insomnia

·      Dizziness

·      Weight Gain

·      Headaches

·      Increased Anxiety

·      Sexual Problems

·      Nausea

The feeling of hopelessness and frustration is just compounded when you’re waiting for relief that never really arrives. There are so many drugs available for the treatment of depression. It can be daunting to find the right one for you. I feel that I have taken the PDR of depression medications. There’s always been the chase for the one that would turn a light on in that dark space.

In my history of counseling and medication management, I have taken Paxil®, Lexapro®, Prozac®, Wellbutrin®, Effexor® and Cymbalta®. Ultimately, over time, none of these drugs proved to be effective. There were varying side effects. Wellbutrin®, for me, was the one medication where the effects were most severe. I often felt severely hostile and agitated by those around me. It was not a good feeling to be depressed and want to strangle everyone within a five-mile radius.

I realize that depression can’t simply be solved with just a pill. It takes counseling; understanding the illness and can involve various types of therapies. The right medication is a vital component to the process. With research and the amount of information on drugs and their reactions, shouldn’t a trial and error method be perfected?

Studies have been done, and scientists are now looking at how a person’s genetic makeup can affect their individual response to medications for psychiatric conditions. I learned about this new science from Laura Leahy, a Psychiatric Advanced Nurse Practitioner. Laura, who is now my counselor and oversees my medication management as a Master Psychopharmacologist, brought this new science to my attention. It was a way to discover why I was not finding a medication that really worked for me.

There is a company called Genomind, Inc. that offers a test known as the Genecept™ Assay. The test examines an individual’s genetics, and provides a detailed report. This report analyzes individual genetic variations to assist in prescribing medications that are effective for the treatment of psychiatric conditions.

After my many attempts to find the right prescription, I knew I was interested in using this new tool. It is as simple as spitting into a tube – they test your saliva.  The test is completely confidential. The information goes directly to your clinician. Genomind sent back a report, which evaluated how on a genetic level my body metabolizes antidepressants. It helped me find a medication and treatment that is right for me.

In my case, I learned that I have impaired folic acid metabolism. This impairment means my body does not convert folic acid to methylfolate.  It hampers the way my body reacts to medications for depression. With this knowledge, my clinician was able to include a supplement of L-Methylfolate to my therapy.  This is essential in the absorption of my prescribed drug.

I am always eager to try something new or look at a different therapy when dealing with my depression. When struggling with mental health issues it is important to question your doctor or counselor about new research and improvements in mood disorders.  I tend to shy away from things that appear to be fads, and like to look for solid evidence of effective methods.

I recently read an article that Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA has been working with Genomind in the research of genetic testing and antidepressants.  The outlook is great, and being able to target the specific genetics really is the key to better medical treatment.  I’m impressed with the information, and I’m glad I took advantage of this cutting-edge testing.

After more than a decade of medication roulette, I now have information at a genetic level that pinpoints what works best for me. If I should move or need to find a new doctor to provide medication management, I have my GeneceptAssay Report that provides a roadmap to better mental health.


  1. Have use GENOMIND with family member and found information very useful

  2. Millions of people suffer from this debilitating condition, and dealing with it requires enormous strength and support from people who care. Not everyone deals with it the same way. Not everyone prevails. John Nolan

  3. Elizabeth: Thanks for reading my article. It does take strength and the understanding and support of those around you. I have heard of mindfulness training. Also, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be a great way to gain power over depression.


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