GeneSight: Personalized Solutions to PTSD

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There’s no place like home.

A famous line from a famous movie. But for the thousands upon thousands of U.S. veterans who have returned home over the decades, it’s far, far more. For them, “no place like home” is the beaming smile of a child, the loving embrace of a spouse, the happy camaraderie of friends. It’s the warmth and solace one can only find in the return to a regular life.

Except when it’s not.

For many returning veterans-maybe even yours-coming home can be a whole new kind of battle. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, as many as 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and 30% of Vietnam veterans suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.[i]

And finding the proper medications that work for individuals with PTSD and depression can be a struggle.

Studies show that: 

  • Fewer than 50% of patients with depression respond to their first medication [ii]
  • Over 70% of patients who have found no relief from one or more antidepressants are taking a suboptimal medication.[iii]

The bottom line: medications don’t work the same way for everyone.

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However, there’s an emerging field of study within the rapidly-growing arena of personalized medicine through which veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental health conditions may finally find relief.

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how an individual’s genetic variations affect his or her response to medications. This new field combines pharmacology (the study of medications), and genomics (the study of genes and their functions), to predict which medications could be the most effective for individuals based on their genetic profile.

One of the companies leading the way in the field of pharmacogenomics is Assurex Health, based in Mason, OH. Their GeneSight test is administered with a simple cheek swab. The sample is then sent to the company’s laboratory where the individual’s genetic variations are analyzed. Within 36 hours, a report is sent to the healthcare provider detailing which medications are most likely to be effective for that specific patient based on his or her genes.

The good news is, it really works.

Multiple clinical studies have shown that when doctors used GeneSight to help guide their treatment decisions:

  • Patients were twice as likely to respond to the selected medication
  • Patients experienced a 70% reduction in depressive symptoms.[iv]

Even better news? The GeneSight test has now been made available for use at all 1,400 VA facilities and clinics serving veterans nationwide.

When is GeneSight Genetic Testing Most Appropriate?

GeneSight genetic testing is most appropriate when a medication just isn’t working (or is causing side effects) or when multiple medications are being taken. As always, it’s recommended to talk with your healthcare provider.

.DC220x 150_GSaddimage 2.jpgFinding the right medications for returning veterans with PTSD and depression can be a struggle. But now, through the science of GeneSight’s combinatorial pharmacogenomics test, perhaps for returning veterans “back home” can finally mean, “back to being themselves.”

For more information regarding GeneSight, please visit,

[i] PTSD: National Center for PTSD. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2014, from

[ii] Trivedi MH, et al. Evaluation of the outcomes with citalopram for depression using measurement-based care in STAR*D: implications for clinical practice. Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Jan;163(1):28-40. [PMID: 16390886].

[iii] Winner JG, et al. A prospective, randomized double-blind study assessing the clinical impact of integrated pharmacogenomic testing for major depressive disorder. Discov Med. 2013 Nov;16(89):219-27. [PMID: 24229738].

[iv] Hall-Flavin DK, et al. Utility of integrated pharmacogenomic testing to support the treatment of major depressive disorder in a psychiatric outpatient setting. Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2013 Oct;23(10):535-48. [PMID: 24018772].

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