West Coast Life Center

Personalized Medicine & Genetic Testing in Psychiatry

Tailoring Psychiatric Treatment To Your Specific Biology By Kira Stein MD & Christine Tylka, MD, The West Coast Life Center, Los Angeles


Los Angeles, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/11/2014 -- When patients are frustrated when a prescription causes psychiatric medication side effects or fails to work, experts commonly explain to clients, that “we all process medications differently.” Doctors often ask patients if family members are on medications, not because they are nosy, but because they know that -- based on genetics --if one medication works well for one close family member, it is more likely to work and be tolerated by another. Now, science is getting closer to learning which medications might be tolerated or more effective with psychiatric genetic testing.

A Los Angeles-based integrative psychiatry group, The West Coast Life Center,uses a genetic test that involves putting a small amount of saliva (about a spoonful) into a plastic tube. The expert then sends the sample off for analysis and results are returned within about two weeks. While such tests do not diagnose a condition or illness, it does give helpful information about the way the brain works and how the body processes medication.

Genes are a two-pronged code of DNA that has one prong inherited from the father, and the other inherited from the mother. Small pieces of DNA actually provide the body with instructions on how to make various proteins. Proteins that affect mental health include enzymes that exist in the digestive system and blood stream, transporter proteins that pump chemical messengers into the areas between brain cells (synapses), and protein receptors that bind to chemical messengers, resulting in changes in signaling that effect mood, thought, and behavior.

It may be surprising to learn that may people have inherited genes that either accelerate or slow the liver’s ability to break down certain medications.This can lead to lower or higher-than-expected medication levels, and lead patients to have lower response rates or higher risks of side effects, even at normal dosages. Getting more information about a patient’s specific ability to metabolize a medication can help doctors figure out how to choose and dose medications more effectively and determine which medications, and which doses, may be more tolerable for a client. This can be invaluable for patients who tend to struggle with psychiatric medication side effects.

Many people at risk for depression have inherited a gene that results in inefficient conversion of dietary folate into methyl-folate, which is a precursor to chemical messengers that are vital to mental health and cognition: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Insufficient levels of these neurochemicals make it harder for many psychiatric medications to do their jobs.

These are but a sampling of the genetic tests available in psychiatry. There are other genetic tests that can be used to examine a specific individual’s biochemistry to further minimize psychiatric medication side effects and maximize various therapies.

Genetic Testing is paving the way for more effective and tolerable medication treatment. This is an exciting time in psychiatry. Now it is possible to go beyond the clinical interview and tailor a patient’s treatment not only to their symptoms, but specifically to their individual body chemistry.

About West Coast Life Center
West Coast Life Center, http://westcoastlifecenter.com/ is a California based emotional wellness boutique. West Coast Life Center integrates cutting-edge technology with compassionate psychiatric care for effective treatment.

Media Contact:

West Coast Life Center
Chauna Myles