Precision medicine is rapidly transforming current medical practices. As a treatment approach, precision medicine typically uses genetic testing to better understand a patient’s medical condition. After evaluating those genetic markers, medical treatment is personalized to improve outcomes and maximize efficacy.
Initially, precision medicine was embraced for cancer therapy and treatment; tumor, genetics, protein levels and other markers are assessed, and treatment is individualized for each cancer patient. By evaluating each patient individually, treatment is more effective and cancer care is more precise, focusing directly on the exact type of cancer and its susceptibilities.
For years, Psychiatry Redefined has been expanding the scope of precision medicine for mental health with continuing education that teaches providers how to assess nutritional status, inflammation, hormone levels, gut flora, toxicity, diet, infections, personal history, genetics, and other key biomarkers. With thorough assessment and testing, a precise and comprehensive patient picture emerges. We then formulate treatment decisions to target each patients’ needs and underlying imbalances, and recovery from mental illness becomes possible.
Precision Medicine and Mental Illness
Psychiatry Redefined is leading the way with precision medicine for mental health care. Our education focuses on precision psychiatry. If we aren’t testing our patients, then how do we know what and how to treat?
However, mainstream psychiatry has not fully embraced the concepts of precision medicine–and what progress they have made has been slow. Thus far, precision psychiatry has been limited to the evaluation of the genetics around liver enzymes and their interactions with prescription medications (Zanardi 2021).
The approach has merits and appears to improve medication-based outcomes (Wang 2023). However, by widening the scope of precision medicine for mental health with additional laboratory tests and assessments, it’s possible to refine mental health treatment even further.
A simple and well-documented example is the research around nutritional psychiatry. Deficiencies in nutrients, like folate, are known to worsen medication-based outcomes (Alpert 2003). Vitamin D has also been shown to significantly improve depression symptoms in adults (Srifuengfung 2023). Considering that around 40% of the population in the United States is vitamin D deficient, the impact of vitamin D alone on depression treatment could be staggering (Parva 2018).
By assessing and re-balancing vitamin D levels in depressed patients, this form of precision medicine could potentially reverse mental and emotional symptoms.
The Potential of Precision Psychiatry
Similar to other medical specialties, the potential of precision medicine for mental health care is profound. As a psychiatrist with decades of experience working with thousands of patients, I have repeatedly seen the power of an individualized treatment approach. Psychiatry Redefined was founded on the principles of precision medicine: teaching providers how to use laboratory testing to identify the root causes of their patients’ symptoms.
We repeatedly hear remarkable patient success stories from grateful students across the globe. As our students know, individualized and precision care is the future of psychiatry.
The current symptom-based approach to treating mental illness uses educated guesswork to make treatment decisions and prescribe medications. It’s tragically inadequate. Medications only mask root causes; worse yet, only one-third of patients actually achieve remission while on medications for depression, for example (Saragoussi 2017).
Precision medicine has transformed cancer treatment, and precision medicine can transform mental health treatment, too. If your patients or your loved ones had a mental illness, would you want to use trial-and-error guesswork treatment? Or would you want to test 200 biomarkers to personalize a treatment plan?
If you are ready to be a part of this new precision-medicine paradigm and want to make a difference with your patients, consider our flagship Fellowship program. You’ll learn research-based, precision-medicine approaches for testing and treatment. It will completely transform your practice and the lives of your patients.
We encourage you to explore this program and join a community of supportive health-care providers sharing experiences and expertise, collaborating in your study, and redefining the practice of psychiatry.
Alpert M, Silva RR, Pouget ER. Prediction of treatment response in geriatric depression from baseline folate level: interaction with an SSRI or a tricyclic antidepressant. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2003;23(3):309-313. doi:10.1097/01.jcp.0000084024.22282.cd
Parva NR, Tadepalli S, Singh P, et al. Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency and Associated Risk Factors in the US Population (2011-2012). Cureus. 2018;10(6):e2741. Published 2018 Jun 5. doi:10.7759/cureus.2741
Saragoussi D, Touya M, Haro JM, et al. Factors associated with failure to achieve remission and with relapse after remission in patients with major depressive disorder in the PERFORM study. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017;13:2151-2165. Published 2017 Aug 9. doi:10.2147/NDT.S136343
Srifuengfung M, Srifuengfung S, Pummangura C, Pattanaseri K, Oon-Arom A, Srisurapanont M. Efficacy and acceptability of vitamin D supplements for depressed patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition. 2023;108:111968. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2022.111968
Wang X, Wang C, Zhang Y, An Z. Effect of pharmacogenomics testing guiding on clinical outcomes in major depressive disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of RCT. BMC Psychiatry. 2023;23(1):334. Published 2023 May 12. doi:10.1186/s12888-023-04756-2
Zanardi R, Prestifilippo D, Fabbri C, Colombo C, Maron E, Serretti A. Precision psychiatry in clinical practice. Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2021;25(1):19-27. doi:10.1080/13651501.2020.1809680