Skip to main content

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.




Recent Posts

Summer Adventures Part 2 – The Backyard Backlot to Broadway

My childhood summers weren’t all the glitz and glamor of vacationing with cousins, wobbly shopping carts and bloody feet. Actually, most of my summer days were spent right at home in my yard. My parents never took a vacation. Our family never packed its bags and took off for other ports of call.I never boarded a plane, a boat, or a train for a family adventure. My adventures were self-created. They were products of an imaginative mind that could travel to the moon, ride the rapids in the Amazon Jungle and lead a battle for the Knights of the Round Table, all before a lunch of Spaghettios with a side of Hawaiian Punch.

I have always loved going to the movies. This helped provide the inspiration to my over active mind. The Saturday afternoon matinee was a childhood staple for me. The smell of fresh popcorn as you entered the lobby and the crisp cold air of the air-conditioned theater helped set the atmosphere on those hot, summer afternoons. I would get lost in the dark with my popcorn a…

Waking Up in Vegas - Happy 2014!

Neither, Gary or I, are really gamblers, so we try to find other activities to occupy our time when visiting Vegas. We have visited Red Rock, Hoover Dam and Valley of Fire State Park on previous visits. We had even traveled as far as Zion National Park in Utah, during an earlier stay. There are definitely natural beauties to discover while in Nevada, and they have nothing to do with showgirls or stripper poles.


This visit was about relaxation and ringing in the New Year, so we didn’t need to stray far from Vegas this time. We bought tickets for a concert featuring Kristin Chenoweth. She is a very talented singer and actress best known from Broadway shows, movies, and multiple guest appearances on GLEE.



The concert was on New Year’s Eve at the newly built Smith Center. Although she is about three feet tall, Kristin has a powerhouse voice. She sang songs from her career and, of course, sang one of my favorites “For Good” from WICKED. It was a great way to prepare for the countdown to mid…

Mental Health - Destroy the Stigma

I believe that I am a fearless writer. I share my personal experiences, thoughts and beliefs. I’ve not been afraid to express my emotions. Self-expression is fundamental to writing. I am a man of my words
Recently, I became concerned that my blogs about depression and mental health might shape my reader’s opinions of me in a negative way.The more I thought about it, I realized that I had internalized the stigma that surrounds mental health.
Stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace or infamy.” The word bears a negative connotation and it devalues the person to whom the stigma is applied. While the conversation about mental health is receiving a larger forum, damaging misconceptions are widespread.
According to surveys, there are between 42.5-46 million adults in the US that have some type of mental illness. Statistics show that one in four adults experience mental illness in a given year. These numbers of individuals are all impacted in some manner by the stigma that still surrounds ment…

The King of Costumes

When Halloween draws near every year, I think of my grandmother.It wasn’t that she was a cackling, hump-backed witch or shaped like a fat pumpkin. My grandmother was a small woman with graying hair and bifocals, a typical grandmother image. She was “Nana” to the family. There were no casting of spells or broom riding over the harvest moon. That’s not why she comes to mind. It’s the fact that she made Halloween a special holiday for me. You see, in my neighborhood my grandmother made me a costume connoisseur.



Every October, all my classmates rushed to Woolworths to select their Halloween garb. You might remember those rows of costumes with the brightly colored masks peering from the cellophane window on the box lid. These types of costumes make every child look like a cardboard cutout of their favorite cartoon character. If I wanted to be Batman, I wanted a real utility belt not a stamped on flammable material version. Remember this was the 60’s, so a swipe of costume fabric across a li…