The Implications of Genetic Testing for Medical and Psychiatric Disorders

People who are interested in having genetic testing done regarding various aspects of health and wellness may do so through companies like Pathway Genomics, which was founded by Jim Plante. The tests identify characteristics and mutations in the person’s DNA structure that indicate increased risk for specific health disorders as well as factors like which medications are responded to most effectively.

Advantages, Limitations and Drawbacks

Genetic testing has advantages, but also limitations and potential drawbacks that the person must be aware of. For instance, identifying an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease does not verify that this individual will ever develop that disorder. One advantage in this knowledge would be the opportunity to keep up with news about cutting-edge treatments, in order to be proactive if the disease ever does manifest.

However, there is also the potential drawback of this person feeling afraid every time he or she is forgetful or has trouble concentrating. These episodes are normal and everyone experiences them.

Dealing With Certainty

In some instances, genetic testing does confirm that the individual will develop a disease at some point if he or she lives long enough. This is the case with Huntington’s disease. A person may decide to be tested for the mutation if a parent has the disorder. Then he or she can make plans about what to do when symptoms first appear. In contrast, if the mutation is not there, this person can stop being fearful about the possibility.

A Psychiatric Disorder

It’s not widely known that some individuals with autism have a genetic marker for the condition. Although this mutation doesn’t provide help for parents wondering about the best treatment for their child, it can give them some relief knowing why the condition occurred. Many parents of autistic youngsters worry that they did something wrong. In addition, the test essentially verifies the diagnosis of autism for any parents were unsure this was correct.

In regard to medical and psychiatric disorders, experts recommend that people speak with a genetic counselor before and after having testing done. Whether the results are troubling or reassuring, the knowledge can have profound psychological and emotional effects.

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