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Finding the Best Antidepressant Option

Some psychiatrists are turning to genetic tests to determine which antidepressant has the best chance of helping individual patients, but the Washington Post reports that the evidence for these tests is mixed.

Typically, psychiatrists put patients on one antidepressant and if that one doesn't seem to work for that person, they switch to another and on and on until they strike on one that works. To shorten that process, the Post notes that psychiatrists like Jeremy Bruce have begun using genetic testing to try to match patients to drugs that may have a better chance of working.

However, the Post notes that while groups like the Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium have ranked the association between certain gene variants and drug responses, there's still uncertainty as to how much effect each variant has and how to assess the strength of the underlying evidence. Additionally, it says the US Food and Drug Administration has warned physicians and patients about information from unapproved tests to guide treatment, as some tests may rely on less established evidence.

In the end, "they're all basically a shot in the dark," one patient for whom testing didn't identify a working drug tells the Post.