Such an important product
“I’m never surprised, but you are the last of my patients that I thought would struggle with anxiety and depression,” my primary care doctor said to me.
She wasn’t the only one – I heard this same refrain from family and friends.
I am married with four children. The kids play on traveling sport and dance teams. I have a great group of friends and I’m close with my family. I’m an active guy – I love horses and team roping, water skiing in the summer, and snowboarding in the winter. Before my struggles, I’d describe myself as active, social and happy.
About two years ago, when I first started struggling with depression and anxiety, I thought: “I’m going to deal with this on my own. I’m NOT going to get on medication.”
One night I was in bed and was scared to death. I thought: “I didn’t want to live anymore.” It scared me that I could even HAVE that thought. I just kept thinking over and over: something is so wrong and I can’t fix it. I remember looking at my wife and telling her that I needed help.
Trial and Error Leads to Self-Medicating
I went into my primary care doctor. After she expressed her surprise that I was struggling, she said right away that we can treat this. However, her reassurances came with a warning: it might take some trial and error with different medications and dosages.
I prepared myself for some trial and error, but over the next few months, I tried four medications at different doses. Instead of getting better, I was getting worse. I went from being very active to being so lethargic that I couldn’t even walk my dog.
On the last medication I was taking, I lost 20 pounds because couldn’t taste anything. Food did not appeal to me. Most frighteningly, I didn’t trust my own mind. I didn’t know if I had real conversations with people or if these conversations were in my dreams. This went on for four months.
I don’t drink alcohol, but one day I snapped. I stopped at gas station and bought alcohol. I drove to somewhere secluded and started drinking. It was the first time in 18 months that I could relax and not feel awful. I felt so much more relaxed from that experience that I started drinking every day. I started to get my energy back and was riding 15, 20, 30 miles at a time.
Yet, I knew I couldn’t be drinking every day. It just wasn’t healthy. A relative of mine thought the same thing and worked with my family to go see a psychiatrist. He told me that drinking and the antidepressant medication I was on don’t mix. He was worried about my health and safety.
Remembering a Conversation about GeneSight
As soon as I woke up to that fact, I thought about a conversation that I had had with my neighbor a few years earlier about the GeneSight test. I knew it had something to do with finding medications and mental health but I didn’t really remember all the particulars about what it did.
I talked to my neighbor who works for the company who makes the GeneSight test. He explained what it is and that it needed to be ordered by a doctor. I’ll admit that I was frustrated at this – I had seen three different doctors and shared how badly the medication was failing. But no one had proactively brought up the GeneSight test. It made me feel like a lab rat. Don’t get me wrong – I know the doctors were trying their best with the medication they were prescribing but they didn’t have all the information.
I went to my new psychiatrist and asked them if I would be a good candidate for the GeneSight test.
Then, I took the test. And I was so afraid – my biggest fear was that the report would say the medications I had been taking were a good fit for me. And, if that’s what the report said, well, I hate to say this, but I was ready to check out. I had a backpack with stuff in it; I was just going to go off and drink myself into a hole. I knew that wasn’t good but that’s how I felt.
But when the results came back, I found that the four medications (all SSRIs) were in the moderate gene-drug interactions. It was such a relief.
After weening off the existing medication, my psychiatrist prescribed a medication in the “use as directed” green category. It’s been a few months and is still a work in progress – we are evaluating what dosage is right for me – but I already feel better than I have in years.
I honestly feel like GeneSight saved my life. I couldn’t go on another month feeling like I felt. Based on information GeneSight provided, my doctor was able to make a different decision for medication. I don’t know how many more medications trials I would have gone through – and I don’t want to think about it.
I finally feel like myself again … and I truly didn’t know if I was ever going feel like who I was before depression and anxiety took over my life. GeneSight is such an important product.
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.