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New genetic test could help improve antidepressant use

In a column for Fox News, psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow writes of recently available laboratory testing that helps psychiatrists identify which antidepressants are the best match for a patient’s genetic makeup.

According to Ablow, medical professionals hope the testing may help counteract some of the documented drawbacks to antidepressants.

For example, Ablow notes that recent studies have suggested some antidepressants don’t work much better than placebos for many patients suffering from mild to moderate depression. Also, he writes that many patients discontinue their antidepressants due to side effects like sexual dysfunction and sleeplessness.

Another concern for many antidepressant users is the fact that numerous studies have linked antidepressants classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, with potentially dangerous heart and lung defects in newborns.

“…Choosing a medication that is metabolically and genetically less likely to cause these and other side effects makes good sense,” Ablow writes.

According to Ablow, a company called AssureRx Health now offers what it calls GeneSightRx, which is a form of “pharmacogenomic” laboratory testing.

Different antidepressants work by varying mechanisms, requiring the activity of different enzymes. GeneSightRx determines which genetic variants, in terms of the enzymes that are activated by antidepressants, a person possesses. The laboratory testing is performed on a swab taken from the patients’ cheek.

Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with an SSRI lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries from SSRIs.