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I don’t think I would have taken another medication if it wasn’t for GeneSight

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I was first diagnosed with anxiety at 21. My doctor at the time prescribed a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). It didn’t really help – I still had all-consuming anxiety. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I quit the SSRI “cold turkey” and experienced bad withdrawal symptoms as a result.

That started my distaste for medication.

After my daughter was born and my anxiety started to increase, I started to use alcohol to self-medicate. I am a server in a restaurant, so I didn’t have health insurance at the time.

About two years ago, I realized drinking and self-medicating wasn’t good for me. I wanted to get healthy. I quit drinking, started mindful meditation, exercised and ate healthy. It helped a bit with my anxiety, but I still had panic attacks. I knew I needed professional help.

Patient Story: photo of Anna

A Horrible Reaction

I went to a general nurse practitioner in the summer of 2020. She prescribed two medications and told me that I needed to take both. She prescribed an anti-anxiety medication and a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). I took the first dose of each and within 2 or 3 hours of taking the medications, I had horrible side effects. I called the nurse practitioner, who told me there was no way I could have reacted that quickly and that it was “all in my head.” She told me that I needed to keep taking the medications, that they needed time to work in my system, so I took the second dose.

After a few hours, I knew something was wrong. I called my mom and told her she had to come over right away because I couldn’t take care of my daughter. My anxiety shot through the roof. I couldn’t focus. I had suicidal thoughts. It was the lowest point of my life. I stopped taking both medications and was bedridden for a week as I recovered.

I started to feel better as the medication left my body, but I still was left with anxiety – made worse by my experience. I was having catastrophic thoughts. This was at the start of the pandemic, and I was terrified that I was going to contract the coronavirus and die. With thoughts like this, I knew that I likely needed medication to help me get through this part of my life.

The GeneSight Test Offers Clarity, and an Explanation

I went back to the same practice but this time I saw different provider. The doctor suggested that I take the GeneSight test. I was intrigued but skeptical, so I told them I needed to research it and think about it before I took it. After research and talking to family members, I decided to take the test at the general practitioner’s office. It was easy – a couple of simple cheek swabs.

By this point, I had found a psychiatrist, so I asked the doctor’s office to send the results of the GeneSight test to my psychiatrist. Knowing my horrible reactions to medications in the past, my psychiatrist set up a longer appointment to review the test results. From my perspective, the GeneSight test validated my experience with previous medications – it wasn’t “all in my head.” I had significant gene-drug interactions with all of the medications I had taken.

What was interesting is that I only had two medications in the “use as directed” category. Both were antidepressants – and both came with warnings about possible side effects: “may cause anxiety.” Accordingly, the psychiatrist recommended that we try a medication in the moderate gene-drug interaction category.

The label suggested I start with a 10 mg dosage, so that’s what my psychiatrist prescribed. Medication seems to work fast in my body, so in a few days I started to notice a change – my pulse was racing, too much energy, etc. My psychiatrist decided to reduce the dose by half (or 5 mg). I’ve now been on that medication at 5 mg since the summer of 2020 and my life finally feels back in control.

Amazing, Alive & a Positive Outlook

If it wasn’t for the detailed information that GeneSight provided to my doctor, I don’t know that I would have risked taking another medication.

Now that I’m not riddled with crippling anxiety, everything has gotten better. I’m a better mom. I’m more motivated; in fact, I’m going back to school to get my bachelor’s degree. I’m more outgoing and friendly.

I’m better at my job – more focused and energetic. Today, I feel amazing, alive and I have a more positive outlook on life than before.

This story is one patient’s personal experience. Other patients may not have the same experience or outcome. Do not make any changes to your current medications or dosing without consulting your healthcare provider.

The GeneSight test must be ordered by and used only in consultation with a healthcare provider who can prescribe medications. As with all genetic tests, the GeneSight test results have limitations and do not constitute medical advice. The test results are designed to be just one part of a larger, complete patient assessment, which would include proper diagnosis and consideration of your medical history, other medications you may be taking, your family history, and other factors.

If you are a healthcare provider and interested in learning more about the GeneSight test, please contact us at 855.891.9415. If you are a patient, please talk with your doctor to see if the GeneSight test may be helpful.