Moms, we have a problem. Prior to 2020, there was already an uphill battle being waged to get moms the mental health support they need, especially in the realm of perinatal mood disorders, and it’s pretty clear that the events of this year have made that battle even more difficult. A September article in the New York Times has called the pandemic “a mental health crisis for parents,” citing numerous factors that have contributed to escalating concerns for the mental wellbeing of mothers in particular across the country.
Though many parents of young children across demographics are feeling increased levels of stress, two subgroups may be particularly at risk for clinical levels of anxiety and depression right now: women who are pregnant or recently gave birth, and parents who are struggling financially to meet their children’s basic needs.
-Jessica grose, New york times
The fact of the matter is that we are struggling. We are struggling on every single aspect of parenthood right now. We are agonizing over every decision, worrying about keeping our family safe and healthy, fearful of what will happen if we make a mistake or let our guard down for a moment, stressed about our kids’ education experience, anxious about our employment, on edge about everything from the election to systemic racism to what we should do if our child is running a fever.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that we are seeing an increase in reports of depression and anxiety in such times, especially when access to healthy coping techniques like exercise and regular time spent with friends are now no longer a given. In my journey with dealing with my PTSD-fueled anxiety, even making the first step of contacting a counselor and making an appointment with my doctor felt incredibly daunting and overwhelming and that was BEFORE a global pandemic. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that parents are supported in their mental health and that the process of seeking the right treatment is as simple and barrier-free as possible.
Depression and Anxiety Medication Frustration
One of the barriers I have encountered when seeking treatment for my anxiety was the trial and error process with medication. There are a wide variety of options out there that are used to treat depression and anxiety, but I will be the first to admit that the experience of finding the right one isn’t a whole lot of fun. You start with one, take it for a while, and see how you feel. Sometimes you get awful side effects like headaches or loss of appetite or even terrible lethargy, so then you try again. And again. And again. I know I can’t be the only one who has gone through several iterations of a medication selection and dosage experiment before finding the combination that seems to fit my needs.
What if a simple genetic test could help cut out all that experimentation and frustration?
I had the opportunity to learn more about the GeneSight Test and the science here is truly fascinating. It’s a simple genetic test you can request from a healthcare provider that will analyze which medications are the most likely to be the best for your specific genetic makeup, taking out much of the trial and error.
Learning More about the GeneSight Test
From here, let’s toss it over to the folks from GeneSight to learn more about this incredible option.
The trial-and-error method of finding a treatment for depression can be frustrating.
The body’s ability to respond to medications is impacted by many factors such as drug-drug interactions, food-drug interactions, lifestyle factors, age, allergies — and a person’s unique genetic code. In fact, according to a national study called STAR*D, less than 40% of those taking an antidepressant achieved remission of their symptoms within the first several weeks. Results were even lower with subsequent medications!
Genetics may play a role because a person’s unique DNA may determine the rate at which they may metabolize a certain medication. For example, if an antidepressant is broken down at a faster rate than normal, a patient may not have enough medication in their body, which may be ineffective for treatment. Or, if an antidepressant is broken down at a slower rate than normal, a patient may have too much medication in their body which may lead to unwanted side effects.
To provide greater insight, more healthcare providers are turning to an increasingly popular genetic test called the GeneSight test. Categorizing 57 different FDA-approved mental health medications into an easy-to-interpret report, the GeneSight test give doctors information about gene-drug interactions that may impact how a patient metabolizes or responds to certain depression medications. As with all genetic tests, GeneSight results have limitations and do not constitute medical advice.
“I have used the GeneSight test since I founded my practice. I introduce it to my clients by asking if they would like to have a test that will help to aid in the selection as they often have been on many different medications,” said Carmen Kosicek, a Wisconsin psychiatric nurse practitioner. “The GeneSight test provides objective data, which informs the decision-making process for the plan of care.”
The GeneSight test is a simple swab of the inside of your cheek, which can be done either in a healthcare provider’s office or at your home. The test must be ordered and interpreted by a provider who can prescribe medications (like a doctor, psychiatrist or nurse practitioner). Results are shared with the provider within a couple of days after the patient’s sample is received in the GeneSight secure lab.
Across the U.S., more than one million patients have taken the GeneSight test, which has been ordered by tens of thousands of healthcare providers.
To find a provider who orders the test in the Milwaukee area, you can click here or call 844.465.1243. Ask your doctor about the GeneSight Test to see if it’s right for you!