Spotting mental illness in a person's saliva

Clinical trials underway

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It's believed one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Patients can spend years trying to find the right drug cocktail to keep their symptoms at bay, while suffering serious side effects. Now a unique test could help change that.

For Virginia von Rhine; art is like a meditation.

"The chatter, the duh duh there 24/7, the chatter goes away because I'm so focused," said Virginia von Rhine.

It's the only thing that's brought this antique dealer peace. She's suffered with major depressive disorder and anxiety since the second grade.

"Forever trying, trying, trying to find the happy pill," she said.

Clinical depression affects nearly 15 million Americans, with two-thirds of patients failing to adequately respond to a first line of anti-depressants and 30 to 40-percent of patients still trying to find relief after three more interventions.

"And that's a huge number of individuals in our country," said Laura G. Leahy, M.S.N, P.M.H-C.N.S/F.N.P Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at the APNSolutions, LLC in Sewell, N.J.

Psychiatric nurse practitioner Laura Leahy says, a new genetic test could help.

"I refer to it as a spit test for my patients," said Leahy.

The Genecept Assay test uses a patient's saliva to look for genetic biomarkers associated with depression, helping doctors predict which anti-depressants are most likely to work.

"And say, yes you are an ultrarapid metabolizer and that is why you are more likely to have significant negative side effects, not respond to such and such medication," explained Leahy.

For Virginia von Rhine, the test helped doctors put her on a new course of treatment.

"I didn't have it for all those years, but I have it now,"she said.

And much like her new tattoo, she now feels like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

"I look at it and I, I know, you know, that I'm a new creature," she added.

The test can be used for patients with a range of difficult to treat psychiatric conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, OCD, and ADHD. Trials are currently underway for the test; go to for enrollment information.

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