One of the tools I recommend to help people identify the root causes of their depression is a simple saliva genetic test. When I took this test, it provided a wealth of new information. The one I used was from 23andme. It costs $99 and can be ordered online. (update: It looks like after offering the test for several years at the same price, the company has just raised the price to $199. The reason is that they now offer FDA-approved interpretation of your results.) After you send in your saliva sample, you will receive results in a few weeks.
Once your results are available, you can download them to a separate service that will help you interpret the results. Below is a list of websites that offer this service.
(Please note that I have no affiliation or financial ties to any of the companies mentioned in this blog.)
- Nutrahacker.com– This is the site I recommend first because it provides specific useful information for each genetic mutations. The basic report is free, or you can purchase a more detailed report for $23.00. I think the free report is the most useful of the two. It breaks down the following for each mutations you have: the function of each gene, the consequences of having that mutation, and what to encourage and avoid. This was extremely helpful for me in discovering, for instance, that I do not do well with methyl B12. The report indicated that I would do better with Hydroxy B12. In addition, I now have a list of 10-15 things I may want to supplement with, and another 10-15 things I should probably avoid. This was extremely helpful for me, especially when I was just starting out and learning about what works for my body. It saved me a lot of trial and error.
- Promethease.com-This report is available for $5, and provides a large zipped file that you can download to your computer. The report gives specific information on: increased risks for certain diseases, medicines that aren’t easily processed, and medical conditions you may be prone to. You can also click on certain SNPs for more detailed research and information on each one. This company also runs SNPedia, a free resource that shares information about the effects of variations in DNA. You can see if your genetics are making you prone to addiction, depression, or any other number of conditions. It’s helpful to be aware of these tendencies because you can use specific supplements to practice prevention. However, please be aware when you are looking at your results that just because a report says you may develop say, breast cancer, it doesn’t mean you will. There are many factors that determine whether you will develop a disease and whether a gene is turned on/off. (This is the study of epigenetics.) Do not panic as you read the long list of possible diseases you may be susceptible to!
- Genetic Genie– This site provides two free reports, but also makes a request for a donation. One of the reports is a methylation analysis, and the other is a detox profile. I found these color-coded reports to be helpful, especially when meeting with my naturopathic doctor. I brought a copy for him and he could easily see at a glance what my main mutations were. The methylation profile also includes a brief report about mutations and a bit of background on what they mean. The language is a bit technical and can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the lingo.
- MTHFRSupport– This site offers a variant report for $30. I didn’t find it to be as helpful as some of the other reports, but the website offers lots of tools and information about the common MTHFR genetic mutation. They also offer an app, a forum, and other free resources.
- Amy Yasko’s site- This respected researcher offers a free report called the Methylation Pathway Analysis (MPA). This report offers some good information, but unfortunately only recommends supplements that she sells, instead of supplements you can purchase on your own. She also has several books on the subject that you can purchase.
- Livewello– This site provides a genetic variance report for $19.95. I did not purchase this service, so I cannot say whether I would recommend it. Their website states that they provide 12 resources for learning about each gene.
Once you know what some of your major mutations are (MTHFR, COMT, etc.), you may want to explore Facebook groups that discuss your particular scenario. Epigenetics is such an emerging field of medicine, and things are changing rapidly. Your doctor may not be up-to-date about the impacts of certain genetic mutations, especially as they relate to mental health. The folks in the Facebook groups provide excellent real-life feedback on what they have tried and how it worked for them.
In future blog posts, I will discuss other non-invasive tools that are helpful in determining how to balance your body for optimal mental health: hair testing and urine toxic metal testing.
I truly believe biochemistry will play a huge part in future prevention and treatment of mental illness. It will be especially important for people with treatment-resistant illness or people who have a family history of mental illness.
Instead of trying to guess what supplements will work for someone who is depressed, a simple saliva test can help practitioners identify treatment options quickly and effectively. Once it becomes common practice, I am hopeful that this will save thousands of people from suffering through trying treatments that aren’t suitable for them.
Have you tried genetic testing? Was it helpful in determining important pieces of your health puzzle? Please share your feedback in the comments below. You can also contact me privately if you have questions.