Mental illness is a broad, umbrella term that encompasses a wide variety of conditions including depression, anxiety, PTSD and schizophrenia just to name few. Mental health is a spectrum and there is no black and white: every case is different and people will experience symptoms in different ways.
Although scientists agree that most mental health issues are caused by a chemical imbalance within the brain or the body, the genetic causes are less clear. Studies continue, and every day scientists are trying to find the biological drivers behind each form of mental illness. “Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), also known as psychotherapy, and medication are the most common forms of treatment, and many patients end up getting treated with a combination of both,” says Zahra Sakkejha,
Director of Marketing at Personalized Prescribing Inc. “Despite the efforts of medical professionals, psychiatric medications do not always work as intended and roughly half of psychiatric medications do not work on the first try.”
There are a range of genetic factors that determine how each individual reacts to a certain psychiatric medication. This can lead to a cycle of medication trial and error, where guess work is used in an attempt to prescribe the most suitable treatment. As well as being costly and time consuming, this process can also demoralize the individual affected. The trial and error cycle can severely impact their belief in ever truly recovering, which in turn leads to a reduction in adherence to medication.
When medication is not prescribed on a genetic basis, it’s ultimately a guessing game. In many cases, patients can try six or seven treatments before finding the right one. “Patients are going through multiple rounds of trial and error, each of which can be 6 – 8 weeks long, so the process can last for many months, even years,” Sakkejha says. “When a patient is not getting any relief from their symptoms, they will continue with dysfunctional patterns in their personal and work lives, whether that’s reduced productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism or going on disability.”