I recommend the GeneSight test
I’m a 43-year-old Army veteran. From 2013 to 2020, I was on seven different medications at 15 different doses. It was a lot of going back and forth, playing a game of chance (a real Russian roulette) – hoping that one medication or even sometimes two medications at the same time would just make things better.
Instead, I had disturbing dreams or I would wake up from tossing and turning so violently, but have no recollection of what was going on. Some medications put me in a foggy haze, while others would increase my irritability. I would literally lash out for no reason at all. I was just frustrated and irate.
And there were other physical side effects too – some of the medications made me sweat profusely, I was always hot and sweaty. Other medications would cause weight gain, and I even lost my libido.
Instead of the medications helping, they just made things worse, more intense, and simply made my life harder.
I would tell my doctors that the medications weren’t working, so they would just either increase the dosage telling me to give it more time to work or completely start me on a whole new regimen. Another round of different pills. Another game of chance. Except it was not a game.
It was affecting my life and the people around me. To make matters worse, depending on my mood I either felt small and unimportant – or that they were thinking I was just seeking attention. Either way, I just felt like I wasn’t being listened to. I kept telling them, the medication that you are prescribing isn’t making me feel better, it is making me feel worse, my life is just getting worse.
Here I was, exhausted from being miserable, exhausted from feeling demoralized, exhausted from being exhausted. And what’s worse, my friends, family and co-workers were exhausted from my mood swings. At times, I felt like I had no one to turn to. I was so frustrated. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Drugs as form of self-medication
I was so miserable and tired of being tired that at one point I ended up turning to drugs. I am not trying to glorify any of this at all. When I started using drugs to self-medicate, I tried to be smart about it and used drugs to study while I was in school. At first it really felt great, my mood improved, resulting in my concentration, focus and clarity improving. I also lost a lot of weight because I didn’t overeat. I started off with small micro-doses. I managed to complete school and attain my degree, but the more I kept “using,” the more I needed to use. It became a vicious cycle.
When I tried to come off using drugs, I would feel overwhelmed, and like my brain was spinning. Unfortunately, it got so bad that it led to a whole new diagnosis: in February of 2019 I was diagnosed with HIV.
So now, here I am – HIV positive, labeled a drug addict, my depression back in full swing, and back to the game of chance. Another round of antidepressant roulette. I felt like all hope was lost.
Learning about GeneSight
I’m not sure how I first heard of the GeneSight test, but I managed to click over to the GeneSight website, and I was intrigued. After reviewing the website, I reached out to them and in September of 2020, I requested that they reach out to my psychiatrist.
Unfortunately, my psychiatrist was unaware and didn’t acknowledge the GeneSight test. I had already had a manic episode and slit my wrist a month prior. In October of 2020, I attempted suicide. I want to be very clear: my drug use didn’t result in my suicide attempt. I was completely sober when I attempted suicide.
I spent another year trying different treatments and medication changes that didn’t work. Then, I remembered GeneSight. So, I went back to the website and was able to search for a psychiatrist in my area who would be able to order a GeneSight test for me.
The psychiatrist I found ordered the GeneSight test for me and the collection kit was sent to my home. Unfortunately, my insurance does not cover the test, so I paid out of pocket.
My GeneSight Results
The psychiatrist shared my results with me. When I saw them, not only was I devastated, I was mad! All this time, every medication I had been prescribed had a gene-drug interaction.
All the medications came up as:
1: Serum level may be too high, lower doses may be required.
2: Serum level may be too low, higher doses may be required.
4: Genotype may impact drug mechanism of action and result in moderately reduced efficacy.
6: Use of this drug may increase risk of side effects.
As I went over the report with the psychiatrist, she explained to me that there are medications that show no signs of gene-drug interactions. She said she would forward these results to my current provider and told me to not give up hope.
My current provider reviewed my GeneSight results with me. As we went over them together, since I wasn’t taking any medications, he decided to prescribe two new medications that showed no signs of gene drug interaction.
I was reluctant at first to take the new medications, but I felt like he was really listening to me and so he encouraged me to try them.
So far, I am starting to feel OK. The combination seems to be working. I honestly hate having to take medication, especially on a daily basis and with my history, but I want to get better, I want to feel better, and I want to be happy – or at least reasonably happy.
I have also started the process of getting a talk therapist and potentially a life coach because I value talk therapy. A sounding board and being validated. Communication is and always will be key in any successful treatment plan, and simply, I just want to feel heard.
I’ve recommended the GeneSight test to others
I’ve recommended the GeneSight test to others. I have another friend who is also a veteran and recommended it to him. I’ve told him: “You have seen my experience; you can see there are options out there. There are things you can do to help yourself.”
I even explained that my infectious disease physician tested me for gene-drug interactions to make sure the HIV meds I take would be ok for me. But when it comes to mental health, I was surprised that my psychiatrist did not know about or order the GeneSight test.
I took matters into my own hands, and my test results are proof. When taking any medication especially for mental health, it is important to be well informed. I feel like so much time has been wasted, but at least I feel now that it wasn’t just me, the GeneSight test is proof that I wasn’t just on the wrong dosage of medication, I was also on the wrong medication.
And today, I feel heard, my doctors are listening to me now. I finally feel that I am on the right track.
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 call us at 855.891.9415. If you are a patient, please talk with your doctor to see if the GeneSight test may be helpful.