Mental Health DNA Insight®

Help Predict a Patient’s Response to Medications

Get started now by downloading our Test Requisition Form to take to your physician. Also included is a detailed White Paper defining the clinical relevance of gene functions and a Sample Report.

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Understanding Pharmacogenomics and Medication Response

Many FDA-approved medications are available on the market today to treat a variety of mental health conditions. However, not everyone responds to medications in the exact same way due to factors such as age, weight, general health and nutrition. In addition, an individual’s genetic makeup has been consistently shown to influence how he/she will respond to certain medications. The study of how genetics can affect drug response is known as pharmacogenomics.

Our Test Can Help

Mental Health DNA Insight® analyzes patients’ DNA to identify specific genetic variants that can affect how they respond to over 50 psychiatric medications [see tab below] indicated for major depressive disorder (MDD), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, seizures, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and other neurological disorders.

Risks and Benefits

Clinical Implementation for Patients

Mental Health DNA Insight® can help physicians prescribe more appropriate medications and guide dosage adjustments if necessary. This test can also help avoid potentially severe side effects or understand and avoid a lack of drug efficacy in some patients.

SSRI Antidepressants

Genes Analyzed:


Drug Class Description:58

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed to treat various psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety and personality disorders. SSRIs act by blocking the serotonin (5-HT) receptors in the brain1. Suboptimal responses can delay the use of effective medications and remission of symptoms2. Genetic differences can play an important role in determining patient responses3.

SNRI Antidepressants

Genes Analyzed:


Drug Class Description:58

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as duloxetine, levomilnacipran and venlafaxine are primarily indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD)4-7. Some SNRIs are also prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and neuropathic pain. SNRIs, like SSRIs, are second-generation antidepressants that are better tolerated than first-generation antidepressants such as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)8.

TCA Antidepressants

Genes Analyzed:


Drug Class Description:58

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are prescribed to treat depression and various other psychiatric conditions9. TCAs act by blocking the neuronal uptake of norepinephrine and serotonin10; the binding of TCAs to cholinergic, alpha-adrenergic, serotonin and histamine receptors contributes to various side effects.

Other Antidepressants

Genes Analyzed:


Drug Class Description:58

Other antidepressants that are used to treat depression and anxiety disorders include: Bupropion – a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) and a non-competitive antagonist of the nicotine receptors11, 12; Buspirone – an anti-anxiety medication unrelated to benzodiazepines13; Mirtazapine – a commonly prescribed second-generation tetracyclic antidepressant that inhibits adrenergic alpha2-autoreceptors and serotonin 5-HT2 and 5-HT3 receptors14, 15; nefazodone – a phenylpiperazine antidepressant not related to SSRIs, TCAs and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and blocks the serotonin 5-HT2 receptors16, 17; trazodone – a serotonin antagonist and a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SARI) related to nefazodone18, 19; vortioxetine – a multimodal antidepressant that can be a useful alternative to serotonergic antidepressants for some patients who are partial responders or non-responders20, 21.

ADHD Medication (NE reuptake inhibitor)

Genes Analyzed:


Drug Class Description:58

Atomoxetine is indicated for the treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children, adolescents and adults. It is a potent and selective inhibitor of the


Genes Analyzed:


Drug Class Description:58

Benzodiazepines (BDZ) are a class of drugs primarily used for treating seizures, but they also are effective in treating epilepsy, panic disorders and various other disorders30. The exact mechanism of action of BDZs is not known, but they appear to work by affecting neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA) in the brain.

Mood Stabilizers

Genes Analyzed:


Drug Class Description:58

Carbamazepine, divalproex, lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin and valproic acid are used to treat epilepsy, mania/bipolar disorder and neuropathic pain31-36. The most serious side effects associated with carbamazepine, lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine and phenytoin are blistering skin reactions known as Stevens Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis19 37, 38. Other mood stabilizers such as valproic acid and divalproex can increase the risk of liver damage and resultant death in patients with hereditary neurometabolic disorder caused due to inherited POLG mutations35, 39-41.

Typical Antipsychotics

Genes Analyzed:


Drug Class Description:58-59

Typical antipsychotics (TAPs), also known as first generation antipsychotics, are prescribed to treat various psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, mania, agitated behavior and severe anxiety42, 43. This class of drugs acts by blocking dopamine D1 and D2 receptors44-47.

Atypical Antipsychotics

Genes Analyzed:


Drug Class Description:58

Atypical antipsychotics are prescribed to treat various psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar mania48, 49. These medications bind serotonin and dopamine receptors50-55. Stimulation of serotonin receptor 2C (5-HT2C, 5-HTR2C, HTR1C) results in secretion of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), enhanced satiety and decreased food intake; therefore, serotonergic agents can decrease food intake and promote weight loss56, 57. Indeed, one of the major side-effects associated with atypical antipsychotics is significant weight gain57.

Other Neurological Medications

Genes Analyzed:


Drug Class Description:58

Dextromethorphan and quinidine sulfate combination is an oral formulation used to treat pseudo bulbar effect. Galantamine is a cholinesterase inhibitor indicated for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease22-25. Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent used to treat excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy26. Modafinil is often used in combination with tricyclic antidepressant medication27. Tetrabenazine is a vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT) inhibitor indicated for the treatment of chorea associated with Huntington’s disease28.


Step 1:

Mental Health DNA Insight® can be ordered from a licensed and registered physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Sample Collection Kit

Step 2:

The patient will provide a saliva or blood sample using the collection kit in the Pathway Genomics box.

Step 3:

The authorized physician will mail the sample back to Pathway Genomics, along with the test requisition and consent form (return shipping provided). View the saliva collection instructional video here. For blood collection instructions, click here.

Step 4:

Pathway Genomics processes and analyzes the submitted sample in its CLIA certified and CAP accredited laboratory. Typically within two to three weeks, the patient’s personalized results will be available to the ordering physician. The results will then be released to the patient. Pathway Genomics has a team of genetic counselors available to ensure that both the patient and the physician understand the information in the report, and to answer additional questions. To contact a Pathway Genomics genetic counselor, please call client services department at 877-505-7374 or email

Mental Health DNA Insight® is best suited for individuals who are about to start one of the indicated psychiatric medications, as well as for patients who are currently taking these medications but are not getting the optimal therapeutic response or are experiencing side effects. This clinically-actionable genetic test can help physicians guide patients’ prescriptions, adjust dosages, and avoid or monitor medications that may have potential adverse effects.

How It Works

This simple saliva- or blood-based test is supported by scientifically validated genetic testing technologies, using clinically relevant markers and assays. In just 2-3 weeks, the Mental Health DNA Insight® report will be delivered to the physicians.

Reports: A Simple Guide to Understanding

The green category indicates that the drug can be prescribed and used according to the FDA-approved drug label.

The orange category signals caution. For medications in this category, the outcome may indicate that dosing levels need to be lowered or increased, or that the drug’s side effects may cause an adverse reaction for this patient.

The red category indicates that the drug should be used with caution and with more frequent monitoring due to the potential risk of a severe adverse reaction or lack of therapeutic response. Alternative medications are strongly recommended.

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+ References

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