Some people suffering from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety usually have difficulty finding the right medication. It may take months or even years to find the perfect medication, combination, and dosage to find relief from symptoms. Some people are lucky enough to respond well to the first medications; others may even experience severe side effects like serotonin syndrome or tardive dyskinesia. It may difficult to find the right medication for you because:

  • Every person’s brain responds differently to certain medications
  • Every medication works differently
  • There is a wide range of medications

Finding the right medication for your condition can be incredibly frustrating, complicated, and challenging, resulting in a tiring period of trial and error with various drugs and treatments. To overcome this challenge, a personalized approach can help you overcome mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or ADHD. GeneSight testing can help overcome these hurdles for patients having difficulty finding the right medication for them.

What is GeneSight?

GeneSight testing, also known as pharmacogenomics testing, analyzes how your genetic variation may affect your outcomes with medications. It assesses your body’s ability to metabolize (break down) various drugs. The test also provides your health practitioners with valuable information about the medications that are less likely to be effective for your condition, need dosage adjustments, or have a high risk of side effects based on your DNA. The test enables healthcare practitioners to develop a comprehensive report to guide the treatment plan for their patients. GeneSight eliminates the process of trying out different medications that may not be best for you. 

Role of GeneSight Test in Mental Health

GeneSight Psychotropic is a pharmacogenomics test that evaluates pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics genes. It weighs their combined effect on your response to mental health medications. Pharmacokinetic genes inform you what the body does to certain medications, while pharmacodynamics genes tell you what impact the medications have on your body. This combination has indicated improved patient outcomes in several clinical studies. 

With GeneSight, doctors can understand which side effects you might have from taking certain medications. Doctors can place every medication into either one of the following three color-coded categories: “Use as Directed” (green), “Moderate Gene-Drug Interaction” (yellow), or “Significant Gene-Drug Interaction” (red). These categories enable physicians to select the right medications for patients according to their genes, increasing the likelihood of response to treatment while minimizing the risk of severe side effects.

Factors Affecting Medication for Mental Health Conditions

Finding the proper medication for medical health conditions is difficult because what may work for you may not work for another person based on their DNA. Your type of condition and DNA may make it challenging to find the appropriate medication for your situation. The following factors may complicate the process of doctors prescribing the right medicine:

Body Composition

Certain medications may affect your body composition in unexpected ways. Some medicines are stored in the fat cells in your body. High-fat levels can cause the medication to stay in your body for longer.


If you develop allergic reactions to certain medications that you were unaware of, you may experience life-threatening side effects. This can make it challenging to determine which medication best suits your needs.

Genetic Makeup

Your DNA is not responsible only for your hair color or height but also affects how medications work, how fast they work, and which side effects you may be predisposed to. 

Types of GeneSight Testing

GeneSight testing types include the following:

Psychotropic GeneSight Test

The Psychotropic GeneSight Test examines and analyzes your body’s reaction to medications prescribed for neuropsychiatric conditions like OCD, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. 

MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase) Test

The MTHFR test measures the quality and utilization of folic acid in your body. To make essential neurotransmitters like dopamine, your body must convert folic acid into its active form (L-methyl folate). The MTHFR informs your doctor whether your body requires supplemental folic acid or L-methyl folate.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) Test

The ADHD test analyzes your body’s reaction to ADHD medications, including stimulants and non-stimulants. The tests help show which drug may cause adverse effects or which will be more highly effective based on your DNA makeup.

Analgesic Test

The analgesic test assesses your body’s reaction to pain relief medications. The test identifies which prescription pain medications, such as opioids, NSAIDs, and muscle relaxants, work best for you based on your DNA.

You may need one or more GeneSight tests, depending on your condition. This will enable your doctor to formulate the most effective and individualized treatment based on your DNA.

How Does GeneSight Testing Work?

When you go in for GeneSight testing, your doctor will collect a DNA sample from you. They will painlessly swab the inside of your cheeks to collect it, or you can choose to use a home collection kit.

After that, your DNA will be sent to the lab for analysis. The lab technician will examine the changes in your DNA that might alter certain enzymes that help your body to metabolize medications.

When the results are in, your doctor will review the findings with you on your next visit. The doctor can determine which medication contains the proper chemical composition to work well with your body. After this, you can rest assured that you will take the best medication suited to your unique needs. You never have to worry about going through tedious trial and error to find what works for you best. 

Who Cannot Undergo GeneSight Testing

If you are already doing well with your current medication, you are not an ideal candidate for GeneSight testing. The test should only be used when your doctor considers augmenting, adjusting, or discontinuing your mental health medication.

Benefits of GeneSight Testing for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

GeneSight testing pharmacogenetic tests offer various benefits for you if you have a mental health and addiction condition. When doctors assess your DNA and genetic data, they can significantly reduce your treatment time.  

You do not have to try so many medications before finding the one that best works for you because GeneSight testing gives you the privilege of taking beneficial medicines. With GeneSight testing, you will be in a better position to concentrate on your treatment and recovery process. The benefits of pharmacogenomics testing for mental health and addiction treatment include the following:

  • Helps patients avoid taking medications that do not work well for them- it helps identify which drugs and supplements are most likely to be beneficial for their mental health and addiction treatment
  • GeneSight testing helps predict and prevent taking medications that can cause adverse side effects and drug interactions.
  • It allows doctors to precisely target the best therapies for their patients, eliminating the need for trial and error.
  • Enables doctors to know the correct dosages for their patient’s medications. They also know which medications patients will respond to and metabolize better.
  • Provides precise genetic information to aid with developing new and more effective medications and therapies for mental health improvement.
  • Improves the likelihood of a successful treatment outcome for patients.
  • Saves time, money and eliminates the stress of trying various medications before identifying the right treatment plan.


According to a task force convened by the American Psychiatric Association, GeneSight testing should not be ordered. Other studies also indicated that most of the data that favors GeneSight are limited. 

The test is not FDA-approved and is expensive. Most insurance companies only cover part of the full test costs. However, patients can still find payment plans and financial aid opportunities.

The Takeaway

GeneSight testing may not be the solution for everyone, nor is it a standard requirement before starting treatment for mental conditions. However, if you constantly suffer from adverse side effects and need a tailored treatment plan, you can benefit from GeneSight testing to know what best works for you. Speaking with your healthcare provider about the test before switching or beginning any psychiatric medications or therapies is crucial.