Relief from mental health challenges -- in your DNA?

One in five Illinois residents will experience a diagnosable mental disorder each year, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. Finding the right medication for treatment can be a tedious trial-and-error process with a host of side effects.

But thanks to pharmacogenomics (I know that's a mouthful!), physicians like me can prescribe more effectively.

That term means research on how a person's genes affect the way they respond to a drug. It is making truly individualized medicine possible, and the field is growing quickly. Studies show that patients who have been genetically tested are twice as likely to respond favorably to prescribed medications. New tests for cardiovascular and oncology medication compatibility are now also available.

The process for testing is simple and starts with a conversation with your doctor. Patients who aren't responding well to their current medication, or who are showing unwanted side-effects, may benefit. DNA collection is painless - it's a cheek swab - and is performed in the office.

One provider of these testing services, GeneSight, gives my patients the chance to step outside the stigma of mental illness. The message: "This is your biology, not your fault."  I gain valuable information from this test, and can personalize treatment plans for conditions ranging from depression to PTSD to ADHD.

At my Oak Park practice, I am committed to facilitating open and honest dialogue with patients. If you or your children are struggling with anxiety, depression or something simply doesn't seem right, a comprehensive, unhurried conversation with your doctor is definitely called for. Remember, your doctor is on your side and wants what's best for you. And that includes the successful management of your condition.

We offer our members no-delay, no-rush office visits and quick access to the doctor via cell phone and email, as well as a very thorough, 2.5-hour annual physical exam. It includes consultation with a dietitian and a professional physical trainer, along with a two-month trial gym membership so you can get your exercise indoors.