WASHINGTON - There is genetic testing that can reveal what is going inside someone that could be contributing to depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions while identifying the medications that person should be taking.
James Crawford said this genetic test saved his life. He has tried everything from therapy to a variety of antidepressants.
“Medications that felt incredibly ineffective, but they kept the lows from being inescapable,” said Crawford. “But it also kept the highs from existing at all.”
The Alexandria, Virginia man contemplated suicide often. He traced his depression back to age 9. He thought that was how life would be forever.
But recently, he learned about a genetic test called Genecept Assay. With a swab of the cheek, it tests 18 genes to determine how a patient responds to medication. The information pinpoints treatments and there is no more trial and error.
For Crawford, the results blew him away. He was clinically depressed, but what he found out was the problem wasn't just in his head.
“Basically, there is an underlying biology at work that is supporting the stories that a depressed person, or in my case, the stories I told myself about why my life is the way it is – I've done something wrong, I am to blame for being a horrible person,” Crawford said.
Crawford no longer feels that way. Following the test, once he figured out where his body was deficient and which medications worked best, he started on a regimen of a form of folic acid and an anti-seizure mood stabilizing drug. No more anti-depressants for him.
“You hear about people getting a brand new life,” he said. “I'm 45. I started this process two years ago. I have a brand new life.”
Realizing it wasn't his fault was the path to freedom. His body was biologically causing him to feel this way and all he needed was the right medication.
“I'm capable of making decisions I couldn't,” said Crawford. “I’m capable of loving in a way I couldn't. I’m capable of sitting here with you going, ‘My God, this is a beautiful day’ and feeling it.”
The science isn't complete yet, but it is a huge advance. The tests are also helping those with other mental health disorders like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).