The process of finding the right medication can take weeks or months but a new simple genetic test could improve this undertaking.
Researchers at St Vincent’s Hospital Anxiety and Depression Clinical Research have successfully trialed a genetic test that could shorten the process.
Using testing called pharmacogenomics, a patient’s DNA can be extracted with a simple swab to assess how they respond to medications and to pinpoint a treatment that’s genetically compatible.
Patient Helen Minns has struggled to manage her depression over the past two decades.
Minns said her depression could “suck the life out of every day”.
“You can’t get out of bed, sometimes it’s impossible to think,” Minns said.
She tried up to 10 different medications, some with intolerable side-effects. The DNA test helped her bypass “a lot of trial and error”, she said.
Fifteen percent of Australians are on antidepressants, which is the second highest per capita in the world for antidepressant use.
St Vincent’s Hospital Associate Professor Kathy Wu said the test could reduce the adverse effects of the drugs.
“It would improve the tolerability of the medication and also maximise the chance of recovery from depression,” Wu said.
Nearly 800 Australian adults in several states are being recruited for the Aligned study.
Experts will continue to investigate whether using the test to prescribe medication for patients with moderate to severe depression is better than standard practice.