More harm than good? Genetic mental health tests

For the first time in John R. Brown’s two-decade quest for the right medication to make his brain behave, his psychiatrist offered him hope in the form of what seemed like rock-solid science.

By collecting the former editor’s DNA with a quick cheek swab, a new genetic test retailing at $3,800 would reveal which depression medications Brown would likely respond well to and those he would not.

The GeneSight test result helped prompt Brown’s psychiatrist to switch him to a new drug in June, making Brown optimistic that there might be a path back to a job, an apartment and even a new girlfriend. But three weeks later Brown, 40, was suicidal, checking into a mental hospital at his therapist’s urging.


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