Our focus is on assisting the patient whenever a medication is to be used to treat depression or PTSD
We propose two steps:
- Genetic testing for guiding drug prescribing
- Medication analysis for drug interactions
- Laboratory testing for coexisting conditions
- Life-style assessment for maximum wellness
- Complete briefing and information for the patient, the family and loved ones before a medication is prescribed
- Coaching and monitoring the patient throughout treatment to remission of symptoms and withdrawal from the medication
- Special care by family, friends and partners to identify medication side-effects and adverse responses that may not be easily apparent
The basis for our first approach is that our genetic testing can guide the physician to choose the drug or adjust the dose of the drug so that the chosen medication is most effective for the patient and fewer changes in medication are required. Secondly, if multiple medications are optimal for the patient, our test shows potential drug-to-drug interactions, allowing the doctor to avoid medication interaction difficulties. Third, besides the normal medical conditions for which the physician typically screens, testing that we are developing will identify health conditions that suggest the presence of toxins or contaminants that may affect the patient’s normal metabolism of his or her medications. Finally, exercise, smoking, work-place chemical exposures and other life-style indicators will be assessed to identify those that may adversely affect the patient and his medications.
The basis for our second approach is in line with the FDA’s decade-old warning regarding antidepressant medications. It is that antidepressant medications present a heightened risk of suicidal ideation and behavior, particularly in persons under the age of 26, and that special care should be taken by physicians and care providers to closely monitor patients receiving antidepressant medications. Our second approach answers this special need. The need is great because of several facts:
- If suicidal ideation occurs as a result of taking an antidepressant, a teenager or adult may be compelled not to speak with anyone about his thoughts. Suicidal ideation triggered by an antidepressant drug has occurred in as few as five days from beginning treatment. The informed parent, friend or partner is closest to the patient and may be able to quickly intercede to avoid potential loss of life.
- It is extremely difficult for a teenager or young adult to consider that emotions he or she is experiencing after taking an antidepressant drug are a result of the drug. The emotions seem very real and personal to a young person and may also seem so to an adult. An informed loved one or family member can more easily see that an adverse drug response is occurring directly as a result of the medication.
- Antidepressant medications have an unusual effect on some persons in that they can trigger symptoms of the disorder itself—for instance, a drug may trigger emotional blunting which is a well-known symptom of depression. The informed and vigilant parent, friend or partner is the closest person to immediately identify the new or deepening symptom and alert the physician of the possible medication effect.
- A condition called akathisia occurs in approximately 30% of patients who take medications. It is a dangerous side-effect and requires immediate action by the physician. It is often mis-identified or misunderstood. The patient may become agitated and irritable and could reach an extreme state of violence or even suicide. An informed family member is necessary if this should happen because a patient may become difficult, may be confrontive and may be at risk if law enforcement officers must be called.
Our two-step program is supported by our laboratory genetic-to-drug and drug-to-drug testing and reporting, which is available now, and by the laboratory testing and life-style assessment programs we are developing.
We believe our approach will make antidepressant use for depression and PTSD more effective and safer for the patient, and the patient’s progress toward wellness will be enhanced, personally rewarding and successful.