This Genetic Test Changed My Life

In a perfect world, a doctor’s appointment ends with a diagnosis and a treatment path that will alleviate symptoms, and make you feel better. But in reality, it’s so much more complicated — especially when it comes to mental health diagnoses like depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

According to one study, fewer than 40% of individuals achieved remission with their first depression medication and, of those who tried again, just 31% of people achieved remission with their second medication trial. When medication does not improve symptoms or causes unwelcome side effects, it can be an incredibly frustrating experience.

Ronni, a mom and grandmother, can personally attest to this frustration. Scary Mommy contributor Erin Kelly spoke with Ronni about her experience with finding a medication to combat her depression. Below, she shares how the GeneSight® test helped her finally feel like herself again. GeneSight® test

Part One: Stuck In Depression

At the beginning of my divorce, I was diagnosed with depression. I never thought this would happen to me, but I ended up spending time in a psychiatric facility and had dark, traumatic thoughts about ending my life. I was unable to participate as a professional, a friend, or a mother to my children, who were in their late teens and early twenties at the time. It was my oldest child who found me when I was at my worst.

As much as I tried to be the parent they could rely on, it was overwhelming to get out of bed every day. There was a period when it was too much to even answer the phone. My children knew I was particularly struggling at that time but had no way of knowing if I was alright. They called my therapist, whose call I eventually took. She told me how frightened my children were. It was heartbreaking to know how hard it was for them.

I was willing to do anything to get my life back. Being a mother and grandmother was my greatest joy in life — and my depression took that away from me. I worked with my doctor to find medication to treat symptoms of my depression. Yet, despite trying ten different medications, I still didn’t feel better. Worse, I had to deal with a series of side effects: Weight gain, weight loss, no sleep, too much sleep. Day-to-day life became a nightmare, and the depression was just as severe as before. Plus, I was dealing with the shame and knowledge that my children knew how much I was suffering and felt helpless.

Feeling exhausted and powerless, I sought the advice of a nurse practitioner who suggested I try the GeneSight test. She told me it is a genetic test that can help inform your healthcare provider about how your genes may impact how you metabolize or respond to certain medications used to treat depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other psychiatric conditions.

I can’t emphasize how much this conversation changed my life.

Part Two: Discovering The GeneSight Psychotropic Test

Just like your fingerprint, your genetic profile is unique — which helps explain why medication that worked for so many others wasn’t working for me. My nurse practitioner explained that the GeneSight test analyzes how my genetic variations may impact how my body metabolizes or responds to certain medications. The GeneSight report, she said, would provide my clinician with information about which FDA-approved medications may require dose adjustments, may be less likely to work for me, or may have an increased risk of side effects based on my genetic makeup.

I was desperate for answers, so I decided to give it a try. I had nothing to lose. I made an appointment to get the cheek swab, which was quick and painless. Two weeks later, I had an appointment with a psychiatrist to go over my results. With this information, my healthcare provider decided to prescribe a different medication to address the potential issue I may have with breaking down or responding to certain medications. My healthcare provider wouldn’t have known to do this if I hadn’t taken the GeneSight test.

I was absolutely dreading going on another medication, and was nervous about the potential side effects. But after taking this new medication, I became a new person — and began my journey to the person I am today. It definitely wasn’t a walk in the park, but I was slowly able to begin to process things, and work on getting to a better place in my life.

Part Three: Getting My Life Back

The depression, diagnosis, and treatment journey took two years of my life. I was fortunate enough to have flexibility and the financial stability for those days I couldn’t get out of bed. Not everyone is so lucky. That’s why I’m so forthcoming about my experience with the GeneSight test and how it helped me.

The GeneSight test is another tool at your clinician’s disposal to help you better your life. To me, there’s no downside to getting the test. It has given me a lifetime of benefits.

GeneSight has given me the opportunity to experience hope again. It’s allowed me to be a better mom – I could be present for my kids in the way I was unable to while my depression was at its worst. I could once again be the parent they could count on, who was available and honest with them. It was a huge relief to return to that role and become their rock again. And, now that my kids have their own children, I am an involved grandmother. That has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

Without taking the GeneSight test and finding a medication that works for me, I wouldn’t be able to handle actively caring for my grandchildren—a role I take so much pride in today.

I can feel joy in the world, as opposed to that dark, desperate time in my life where I couldn’t see any options. It’s definitely not always a smooth path! But without the GeneSight test, there might not have been a path at all.

The GeneSight test may offer hope for people who feel they’ve tried everything. Ask your doctor about the GeneSight test today.

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