Has anyone tried genetic testing to determine which meds to try?

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    • #71254

      My 8-year old son has ADHD and has been getting behavioral therapy for the past 19 months. It’s helping improve some behaviors, but others are the same or getting worse and we’re starting to think about medication. Namely for his lack of emotional regulation, aggression, irritability and mood swings. He is tough to live with, and has a bad attitude to boot.

      Anyway, I was recommended to get this genetic test done by a doctor or psychiatrist before getting meds prescribed. It’s basically a cheek swab that looks at the patient’s DNA to determine which meds will work best for this particular person based on their genetic makeup. It takes the guesswork out of which meds to try first, increasing their effectiveness right off the bat, and reduces the potential for side effects. Has anyone tried it? It’s called genesight.


    • #71532
      Penny Williams

      We have been through years of medication trails. My son had some severe reactions to some of these medications (mostly SSRI’s). When these genetic medication tests came out, I was ecstatic and intrigued. The first one we tried came back that he was “green lighted” to use all of the medications tested for, even those that he had had severe negative reactions to. I was talked into trying a different company’s test, and it came back exactly the same. Green light on all medications.

      What I learned is that these test results are not the all-telling information to know if a medication is going to work well for the individual or not. They only look at genetic factors, and only look at a handful of them when there are thousands.

      Yet, the efficacy of these medications depends on genetics, metabolism, and neurotransmitter functioning of that one particular individual. These tests look at a fraction of the genetics piece, but neither of the other pieces. Their marketing is VERY misleading.

      Now, there are some people who have those genetic markers that signal a struggle with certain medications and knowing to avoid them up front is absolutely a good thing, but you have to realize that this test doesn’t provide all the information needed.

      Here’s a great overview on ADHD medication to help you make a well-informed decision on it’s use:

      A Patient’s Primer on the Stimulant Medications Used to Treat ADHD

      Now, MTHFR is one of the genes tested, and it can have a huge impact on an individual. My son has the MTHFR polymorphisms, but that didn’t signal any caution of any of the medications on the GeneSight test.

      MTHFR: Another Piece of the ADHD-Genetics Puzzle

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #71706

      Hi! After 4 failed ugly med tries over 4 months we did do the genesight test. Within 48 hours we had a list that reaffirmed all the “poor choices”- each med that we had tried was in the red- not a good fit! So reassuring that if the test came back saying the ones that didn’t work wouldn’t work, was happy to have a guide on what might work.
      We ended up (due to age constraints) trying a med in the “moderate” (may or may not fit) group that was effective.
      I’ve continued to use the genesight test as a
      Guide. Good luck!

    • #75155

      Penny, I’ve forgotten to come back and thank you for your response. I’ve also found out from the psychiatrist (who downplayed everything I mentioned) that these tests highlight which meds might cause a reaction, not which would be most effective. The drugs that cause a reaction could very well be the ones that work for a particular person.

      She also tried using scare tactics to talk me down from meds, saying the side effects can be really bad and include cardiac death. She already told me she wouldn’t give my son meds because she “doesn’t think he has ADHD,” so I don’t understand that tactic at all. So frustrating.

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