Today is World Mental Health Day.  The goal is to raise awareness about mental health around the world.  

In the U.S. about 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness annually.

alt = "mental health"

Approximately 300 million people suffer from depression

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, about 1 in 25 struggle with a serious mental illness.

Below are statistics on how mental health issues affect Americans:

  • 1 in 5 (or 43.8 million) adults experience mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 (or 10 million) adults experience a serious mental illness.
  • 1 in 100 (or 2.4 million) live with schizophrenia.
  • 2.6% (or 6.1 million) of Americans have bipolar disorder.
  • 6.9% (or 16 million) suffer from severe depression.
  • 18.1% (or 42 million) live with an anxiety disorder.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

And yet:

  • Only 41% of adults with a mental health condition received help and less than 50% of children 8-15 received mental health services.
  • Only 36.9% of those suffering from anxiety receive treatment.
  • Less than 20% of Americans with moderate depressive symptoms sought help from a medical professional.
  • And 4% of young adults with self-reported mental health needs forego care.

While the statistics might seem discouraging, there are a number of ways to get help if you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health condition.

Medication can be an important part of the treatment of a mental illness, but finding the right medication at the right dose, for each individual, can take time and may cause harmful side effects.

In The Mental Health Clinician, it states over the past 3 decades, new psychotropic medications have been developed in hopes of improving outcomes such as medication adherence, tolerability, safety, and efficacy. A motivating factor for this has been consistently low reported remission rates in mood disorders with first-line treatment options.

According to the online publication, approximately 40% of treated patients will experience complete remission. In an effort to improve outcomes, mental health pharmacogenomics may play a role in improving outcomes by enhancing decision making in medication selection and treatment strategy. With improved access to genetic testing, future goals within mental health should include providers maintaining a well-rounded understanding of pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties.

Pharmacogenetics and Mental Health:
Pharmacogenetics aligns current and future medications with each persons unique genetic profile.  We know pharmacogenetics isn’t the “end all, be all” but it is another tool that can be used to help clinicians know the right drug, at the right dose, for the right person.

According to the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), less than 30% of depressed patients responded adequately to their initial antidepressant.

One thing a patient with mental health can’t afford, is “trial and error” prescribing.  Pharmacogenetics testing allows healthcare professionals to identify patients who might experience adverse effects from antidepressant or antipsychotic medications and help to improve adherence.

One benefit from pharmacogenetic testing is to identify patients who rapidly metabolize medications, also known as ultra-rapid metabolizers.  Test results will guide prescribing letting providers know what kind of dose that individual  should be taking.

PGx Medical travels the country educating and implementing pharmacogenetics in the field of aging services.  Despite the FDA’s “black box warning” of the potentially fatal side effects of antipsychotics for people suffering from dementia, these powerful drugs are too often used as a means of sedating elderly nursing home residents with dementia, as a substitute for appropriate care

Mental Health Illness has no limits.  An estimated 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 18 suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder each year.

Today as we bring awareness to these statistics all over the world, let’s stop and think about the available ways to help, support and treat those affected.

For more information on pharmacogenetics, contact: PGx Medical, or 405-509-5112.