With an extensive family history of depression, Susan was quick to notice the signs of depression in her 15-year-old daughter, Emma. Susan found a therapist for Emma, but it wasn’t enough to manage Emma’s depression. She had become suicidal.
“Therapy helped – until it didn’t. That’s when Emma began to openly discuss suicide,” said Susan. “At that point, it became clear that medication was needed.”
Shortly after Emma became suicidal, a doctor prescribed her Prozac (fluoxetine). Susan waited anxiously for signs of improvement in her daughter, but Emma wasn’t getting better.
“I knew from personal experience that it could take time after she started the medication before she would begin to feel better. But with a suicidal child, I knew time wasn’t on our side. Over the course of six weeks, her dosage was increased, but Emma did not feel any improvement. She was becoming anxious and disheartened that she was not feeling better. This only added to the hopelessness and contributed to her suicidal feelings.”
Susan began to panic.
“Was I going to lose a daughter to suicide because we weren't finding the right dose of medication? And was she even on the right drug? Could I keep her safe as time passed while we tried to find something that worked?"
“She was becoming anxious and disheartened that she was not feeling better. This only added to the hopelessness and contributed to her suicidal feelings.”
Susan considered checking her daughter into an inpatient facility where they could monitor Emma 24/7. But she didn’t think doing so would increase the likelihood that doctors would find the right drug and dose to manage Emma’s depression; it would still be “like throwing a dart at a list of medications to choose the next one to try.”
Then Susan’s husband heard about the OneOme RightMed® comprehensive test. As soon as her husband told her about the test, Susan was on OneOme’s website researching it.
Susan learned that the RightMed test, a pharmacogenomic test, analyzes a person’s genes to predict how he or she will respond to hundreds of medications. The test includes fluoxetine, the drug Emma was taking, plus many other psychiatric medications. The RightMed test could help Emma’s doctor understand which medications, and at what dose, may work best for Emma — all based on her DNA and how her body processes the drugs. Susan immediately scheduled an appointment with Emma’s doctor and brought OneOme’s patient toolkit with her. Emma’s doctor ordered the test.
“I explained the service to Emma, what was going to happen, and what it would hopefully mean for her and her medications. I think just knowing about the test was a literal lifeline for her — she decided she would try to stay alive while we waited for the results. These aren’t easy words to say, but I think they are absolutely true.”
“I think just knowing about the test was a literal lifeline for her — she decided she would try to stay alive while we waited for the results.”
“We got the results back, and sure enough, the report indicated that fluoxetine was not the best medication for Emma.”
Based on the results in the RightMed test report, Emma’s doctor decided to prescribe a new medication for her. It wasn’t long before Emma felt the difference.
“About two weeks after her medication was switched, Emma said, ‘Mom, now I get it. I feel so much better.’”
“I was so relieved. I had been telling her that when her doctor found the right drug and dose, it would be like a switch had been flipped. And finally, here she was telling me that not only did she feel better, but that the thoughts of suicide were greatly diminished. She is 95% better, and I no longer feel as though I can't leave her alone.”
On top of helping guide her doctor to the best medication for Emma’s depression, the RightMed test results, which include medications used to managed many diseases and health conditions, will serve as a resource for her doctors for years to come.
“And finally, here she was telling me that not only did she feel better, but that the thoughts of suicide were greatly diminished.”
Now that Emma’s depression is managed, she can focus on the things she cares about. Emma will be starting 10th grade in the fall. She loves reading and studying different languages. Currently she’s working on mastering sign language.
As her mother reflects on what the test has done for her daughter, she says, “I believe this test has saved my daughter’s life because she now has a medication that is effective for her.”
When asked what she would tell others who are considering talking to their doctors about the test, Susan quickly answered, “Don’t hesitate.”