Can you help me understand your use of genetic testing?
The medical world has known for many years that various health outcomes are tied to certain genetic markers. But did you know that specific genes have also been implicated in mental health concerns ranging from addiction to anxiety, and can even determine your sensitivity to stress? Genetic variants can tell doctors quite a bit about the biological roots of their patient’s symptoms—and because we now know these variants can be altered through factors such as diet and lifestyle via a process called epigenetics, gene-based precision medicine is now on the cutting edge of scientific progress.
Our doctors have been using genetic testing with our patients for over eight years, have tested over 1600 patients, and have written many blogs on the subject that are read around the world, and we have seen firsthand how these tests can result in better mental health in a much faster period of time. We have also seen how much confusion exists around genetic testing, not least because many products on the market today are more for entertainment purposes than providing important information to help with root cause analysis.
Genetic Testing Benefits
At Potomac, we go over all the details of the test with you before you take it, we walk you through the results once you have them in hand, and we build out an evidence-based treatment plan that takes your results—as well as your lifestyle and needs—into account. Here’s how the process works:
- During your first few appointments, your doctor will go over genetic testing benefits and the possibility of administering a genetic test with you. We do not require the test from any patient, but we do recommend it for most.
- If you agree to the test, we will order it for you. Genomind’s Professional PGX is our go-to test for obtaining baseline genetic information (you can learn about the differences between tests we prescribe by clicking here).
- Before the test is shipped, you will receive an email from Genomind asking for your insurance and payment information Depending on insurance coverage, the test cost can range from $0-$399 (Medicare and Tricare cover the test completely. Medicaid covers the test completely in DC and Virginia. Medicaid plans in Maryland may require a prior authorization process. For other states, coverage varies.) While this may seem like a hefty out-of-pocket price, it is balanced out by the fact that its results will help us create a treatment plan designed to work as efficiently as possible, saving you both time and money in the long run.
- The test, which arrives within days of receipt, will be shipped directly to your home. Upon arrival, we will guide you through the process of completing the test, which is as simple as a simple swab of the cheek.
- You can expect to receive results within 1-2 weeks—and we will go over these with you at your next appointment.
By the time your results are ready, your doctor will already have a baseline of your symptoms and concerns. The results themselves often provide patients and doctors with an “Aha!” moment—or moments!—where a certain genetic variant provides so much clarity on a symptom that the path forward becomes clearer almost instantaneously. For example, if you have a certain variant on your BDNF gene, it may provide context as to why you are feeling sluggish and uninspired. If you have a certain variant on your COMT gene, you may be more prone to feeling overwhelmed by stress—and may benefit from making dietary changes to provide more balance in your life. A variant on your SLC6A4 gene may even confirm why certain anti-depressants aren’t working, or are making things worse!
So much of our mental health is reliant upon systems outside of our synaptic firings—and genetic testing helps our doctors treat the whole person rather than just a single piece of their wellness puzzle. It’s simple, clear, and cost-effective in the long run—and to us, that makes the administration of these tests on our patients a no-brainer. We think you’ll feel the same!
Frequently Asked Questions
Psychiatric Staff at Potomac Psychiatry
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