(02/12/13) - A saliva test could change the way doctors treat mental illness.
One in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder.
But, a lot of patients spend years trying to find the right drug cocktail to keep their symptoms at bay, while suffering serious side effects.
For Virginia Von Rhine, art is like a meditation. "The chatter, it's there 24/7, the chatter goes away because I'm so focused."
It is the only thing that has brought the antique dealer peace. She says she has suffered with a major depressive disorder and anxiety since the second grade. "Forever trying, trying, trying to find the happy pill."
Clinical depression affects nearly 15 million Americans. Two-thirds of patients do not respond to their first line of anti-depressants.
Psychiatric nurse practitioner, Laura Leahy says more than a third of patients are still looking for relief after trying three or four different drugs. "And that's a huge number of individuals in our country."
Leahy says a new genetic test could help. "I refer to it as a spit test for my patients."
The Genecept Assay Test uses a patient's saliva to look for genetic bio markers associated with depression, helping doctors predict which anti-depressants are most likely to work.
"And say, yes you are an ultrarapid metabolizer and that is why you are more likely to have significant negative side effects, not respond to such and such medication," Leahy says.
For Virginia, the test helped doctors put her on a new course of treatment. "I didn't have it for all those years, but I have it now."
The test can be used for patients with a range of difficult-to-treat psychiatric conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, OCD and ADHD.
ABC12 Main Station