PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is new help for people who suffer with depression and other mental health issues. It is a special kind of test from a lab in Montgomery County. It’s a way to take the guess work out of figuring out what drugs will work best for mental health patients.
It worked for a writer who lives in South Jersey.
Even as a little boy Vince Sparks was put on many different drugs for anxiety and depression. “It’s trial and error, I used to call it medication roulette,” Vince explains.
It’s a common complaint from the millions who struggle with mental health conditions. Finding the right drug can be difficult. “I’ve taken ones where the side effects were hard to deal with. You get frustrated.” Vince says.
He says a test created by Genomind, that has a lab in King of Prussia, solved years of frustration.
“It’s really personalized medicine for psychiatry,” explains Neurologist Dr. Jay Lombard co-founder of Genomind. He developed a genetic test that can help determine which drugs will work best. “It’s a saliva based gene test where we analyze specific genes that are associated with medication response for psychiatric purposes,” Dr. Lombard says.
The test looks at brain chemicals like serotonin or dopamine and then analysis which drugs have the best probability of working for individual patients.
There are skeptics who say the technology is too new, not proven with enough independent research. But Dr. Lombard says, “We know it works not only from the complete clinical studies but we also know it works because doctors and patients come back and say this helped me so much.”
Vince says it turned his life around: “I wouldn’t have known what I needed unless it was for Genomind. It gave me a sense of well-being because I knew it wasn’t me who was questioning the drugs. It was that the drugs weren’t effective for me.”
The test called Genecept Assay is managed by a mental health professional who gets the results and would prescribe the medication.
Genomind has tested 80,000 patients so far. The genetic testing is usually covered by insurance