Nancy Mitchell, APRN

Question: “What is genetic testing for psychiatric medication, and do I need it?”

Have you been frustrated by the lackluster results of your psych meds? Perhaps you have a family member or friend who told you their provider suggested genetic testing and the test told the provider the “right” medication for them. That sounds amazing! Can genetic testing find the “right” medicine for you?

At Cardinal Counseling, we recognize that genetic testing for psychiatric medications is an exciting field that is gaining knowledge every day and has the potential to make a significant difference in the future. We are excited to have a relationship with two genetic testing companies: GeneSight and Tempus. Our medication provider can discuss with you if you are a good candidate for genetic testing, and help you choose which company is right for you.

Genetic testing reports don’t tell which medication is “right” or will work for you. They do provide information on how well you metabolize medications, which medicines may be less likely to work for you, and the possible risks for side effects. It’s just one tool in the provider’s toolbox.

If you have questions about genetic testing, ask your medication provider at your next visit. You do have to be a client of the Cardinal Counseling medication provider for them to order the testing for you. Once the decision has been made to move forward with testing, the medication provider will electronically order the test. You are not under any obligation to complete the testing once an order has been created. A representative from GeneSight or Tempus will work with you to answer your questions about insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs before you make the final agreement to test. After you give the final “yes”, you can pick up a test kit in the office or a kit will be shipped to your house by the company.

Testing is simple and not painful at all. The kit includes written instructions and a pictorial guide on how to correctly swab your cheek, place the sample in the correct container, and ship it back to the company in a prepaid, pre-addressed envelope. The company will email the results of the test to the nurse practitioner within two weeks, and the medication provider will go over the results with you.

Currently, routine genetic testing is not recommended for those who need mental health medications. Choosing a medication based on a comprehensive assessment, detailed mental, physical and social health history, and severity of mental health symptoms is still the standard initial approach. However, if you have had multiple failed drug trials (at an adequate dose and length of time), difficulty finding an effective option, or several intolerable adverse effects after trials of different drugs…then genetic testing may be a good option for you.

Cardinal Counseling’s medication provider would be happy to answer any of your questions about genetic testing.