At first glance, genetic testing seems like a test everyone should take. The possibility of finding out the risk of diseases you may develop due to genetic influences and preventing them is alluring. But as studies show, it is not always a rosy affair. We spoke to Washington genetic testing experts to understand the risks and benefits of genetic testing for psychological disorders. If you are considering genetic testing, read this before making the appointment.
What is Genetic Testing?
Genetic testing evaluates your genetic makeup to determine the likelihood of developing certain diseases. When used in mental health, genetic tests pinpoint the risk of developing psychological illnesses and the most suitable medication with minor side effects. Doctors can recommend antidepressants or mental disorder medication with higher efficacy and fewer side effects using genetic testing.
Benefits of Genetic Testing
Improved Medication Choice
Mental disorder medications sometimes adopt a one size fits all approach. However, with genetic testing, doctors can determine medicines with the best efficacy based on your genes. Genetic testing helps in developing personalized medication.
Genetic testing finds utility in assessing the risk for cancer and mental disorders. If the markers indicate you can develop a preventable disease, doctors will take the necessary steps to minimize your chances of developing the mental illness.
Genetic testing gives insight into a person’s genetic code. The invaluable information can prevent bipolar disorders. In advanced genetic engineering, doctors can rewrite the code to improve your immunity to many of the world’s common diseases.
Genetic Counseling to Ease Stress
Genetic counselors explain the results of a genetic test and help your family understand why they have or don’t have specific markers. Through counseling, your family members will comprehend what they need to do to prevent a particular psychiatric illness. The peace of mind after genetic counseling helps discount the feelings of guilt.
Risks of Genetic Testing
During the genetic testing process, there’s little to no physical risk. The most common form of testing is a saliva swab or blood testing. When performed at a reputable genetic testing center, both methods have no adverse physical effects.
The risks of genetic testing are usually financial, psychological, and emotional.
Genetic mutations that are markers of a certain mental illness are passed down in the family line. A positive genetic test identifies the marker which induces unneeded stress. Usually, individuals who find they have the same genes for a specific mental illness experience stress.
But having the genes responsible for a specific mental disorder only shows that you are at a greater risk of developing it. It is not a guarantee. You may age well without ever experiencing symptoms of the disease.
Genetic testing also reveals information about your family. It is a no-brainer that no family member will want to know they are at risk of developing a mental illness, especially when their health seems perfectly fine.
Direct-to-consumer kits are widely in use for conducting genetic tests. However, the DIY kits increase self-diagnosis risk, which is not favorable when seeking treatment. Similarly, some doctors are not qualified to interpret the results of tests and may give inconclusive or inaccurate results. If you suspect the results are incorrect, visit a dedicated genetic testing center instead of self-diagnosing yourself.