Weight gain. Drowsiness. Nausea and vomiting. The list goes on. Every FDA-approved medication has the potential for unwanted side-effects. Mental health medications – such as antidepressants, stimulants, and mood stabilizers – are no exception.

There are dozens of medications commonly prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health concerns, but finding the right medicine can be a difficult battle. Negative side effects can cause many frustrations in your mental health journey, especially when starting a new medication. Thankfully, with proper medication management, side effects can be kept to a minimum and you can experience relief much sooner.

Metabolism and Medication Management

Why do you respond well to certain medications, but not to others? The answer is found in how well your body metabolizes the medication. If your body takes too much time to metabolize the medicine, then that medication is spending too much time in your body and may result in unintended side effects. On the other hand, if your body metabolizes medication too quickly, then the medicine is not spending enough time in your body and will be ineffective.

When determining the best medication for you, it is important to consider how your body will metabolize and respond to that particular medicine. There are four common types of metabolization:

  1. Poor: Medication is broken down very slowly, resulting in negative side effects at a standard dose.
  2. Intermediate: Medication is broken down at a slower-than-normal rate, meaning that medication stays in the body longer than necessary at a standard dose.
  3. Extensive (Normal): Medication is broken down at a normal rate, providing the body with the right amount of medication at a normal dose and reducing the risk for side effects.
  4. Ultrarapid: Medication is broken down and removed from the body too rapidly, preventing the medication from providing relief.

Depending on your genetic makeup, your body may have poor metabolization for one type of mental health medication, but normal metabolization for another. Finding the perfect balance requires knowledge of your unique genetic profile. This is why it is so important to find medication management that includes basic genetic testing.

The Benefits of Genetic Testing

In recent years, pharmacogenomic tests have been developed to help psychiatrists determine how well your body metabolizes certain psychotropics – or mental health medications – before ever prescribing the medicine to you. Tools such as the GeneSight® Psychotropic test allow psychiatric providers to analyze your DNA and effectively prescribe the best medication at the optimal dose, depending on your genetic makeup. By incorporating genetic testing in your medication management, you can find the right medicine faster while avoiding any medications that would cause negative side effects.

Finding Quality Medication Management

LifeStance Health has a team of board-certified, licensed psychiatrists and nurse practitioners dedicated to providing initial diagnostic evaluations, individual psychotherapy referrals, and quality medication management. Our experienced team of psychiatric providers uses GeneSight® testing to help make the best medication prescription decisions for your situation. To learn more about the medication management services available at LifeStance Health, get in touch with us today!