Five months ago, my psychiatrist had me do some genetic testing. He told me that the genetic tests would tell him how my body reacts to specific medications. The testing would assess my DNA, looking for key genetics. It would be possible to find out which medications would work better for me and which medications I would be more prone to side effects. Basically, this test could tell me which medications would be more difficult for my body to handle.

I agreed to do the testing because it was free through my insurance. Also, I already know I tend to have problems with medications due to my Ashkenazi genes. I figured that more information couldn’t hurt. When the results came, the main thing that they told me was that my body is not able to process folic acid properly. My psychiatrist explained to me that this issue can make it more difficult for any of my medications to be effective.

He started me on a medication called Deplin (L-Methylfolate). It turned out that I knew of several people who started taking the same medication and they found it to be extremely helpful. I started the medication with a positive attitude. However, in the past five months, I don’t see any real changes from the Deplin. I only have more issues, not less. I want to get off the medication, but I can’t make too many changes at one time. As soon as I can make another change, which is not the Clozapine or ECT, I will go off the Deplin. I know that it’s helpful for many people; it just isn’t helpful for me.

The genetic testing also told me which medications I have an increased risk for side effects or a poor response. It’s not a guarantee, it just tells me what’s more probable. For example, Abilify, Saphris, Tegretol, Clozapine, and Seroquel are all suggested to use with caution. I have taken all of these medications at one time; I’m currently still on Tegretol and Clozapine. Some of these medications I had no problem with, such as the Tegretol. Other medications have had major issues. The Abilify caused an extreme manic episode and the Clozapine is currently causing weight gain.

I know that the genetic testing can be helpful for many people, but I haven’t found it to be too beneficial for me. I’m still glad I did it. Even if it didn’t help that much for me, if I didn’t do it, I would be questioning everything all the time. Of course I wish it was more helpful for me; but no helpful information is better than nothing at all.

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