Depression has been an invisible enemy we have battled since in the past. Although back in the 18th century, people had placed a stigma and treated mentally ill persons so poorly, they were few and far between that were allegedly “cured.” Fast-forward today, almost 17 million Americans suffer from depression. Children ages 3 to 17 have been found to suffer from major depression. These alarming statistics were back in 2017, and we have yet to see the ones the pandemic caused.
There is a study of gender and how it links to depression. As girls are more likely to reach puberty, according to this blog by WHO, they are more likely to cover a big population compared to boys. To add, there are social constraints placed upon women that add to this condition, as well as other factors like social media and solitary confinement this year. Sadly, antidepressants nowadays have a side-effect that may cause more harm than good to depressed people, especially women: Weight gain.
What is Pharmacogenomics?
Pharmacogenomics is the study of our genomes and how they react to medications/drugs. It is derived from two words, namely Pharmaco, the study of drugs and medicines, and Genomics, from the word genome meaning genetic material. The two words form what seems to be a straightforward meaning to the term. This is a new field of study that many types of research tackle because of the many potential and possibilities it holds.
This study is highly regarded and scrutinized, though it is still in its budding stages. Pharmacogenetics aims to study which certain differences in an individual’s genes bring about side-effects or adverse reactions, and thus ultimately avoiding it.
Side-effects in pharmacology may mean mild to moderate signs and symptoms that can be easily remedied, or not even paid any attention at all as it is not serious. Adverse reactions are severe and may cause hospitalization and worst of all, death.
Almost 80% of the population diagnosed with Major depression has taken to therapy and medication regimens. About a third that takes these medications is subjected to gaining a pound or two.
This poses an ironic effect of the drug, as this side-effect opts many users to either stop taking it or slump back into depression because of weight gain. A FAQ section about antidepressants and weight gain talks about an in-depth discussion as well as treatments and proper habits. The responses of this effect vary from patient to patient, but most prefer a medication that won’t directly affect their weighing scale.
Pharmacogenomics aims to look into how those genes reacted to these medications in order to tailor safe and more effective medications to the general population. While some weight gain might not be such a big deal, for people who are suffering from mental illnesses, it might mean the world if they can avoid it.
How Pharmacogenomically Made Antidepressants Can Change The Game
Antidepressants are a group of medications commonly prescribed to those suffering from major depression. In no circumstances should antidepressant become a drug of choice for mild depression because of its side-effects that would not measure up to the relief it will bring?
The common side effects are as follows:
While all common side-effects seem harmless, weight-gain has seen to be the top reason patients tend to stop their regimen or worsen after being prescribed with it. This is one of the main reasons many companies have pursued Pharmacogenomics to produce a new line of tailored antidepressants.
Not only that, but there are other adverse effects they would like to avoid as well. Antidepressants can cause rebound suicide, were taking antidepressants to worsen their state with or without weight gain, and ultimately end up in suicide. This link talks more about rebound suicide and when it occurs. Another adverse effect is called discontinuation syndrome, where flu-like symptoms appear after taking these medications.
Pharmacogenomics have been used by several medical-based companies as their focus. Most if not all use testing to determine what changes need to be made in their custom-made medication and how it should be tackled. This test is backed up by scientific research and journals published by several medical professionals in regards to Pharmacogenetics.
A Long Way To Go Though their ambitions are for the greater good, this new discovery is still on its baby legs. More research is needed to anchor claims and let the general population warm up to this new way of treatment. Tailored medication sounds like stuff made of the future, but it needs more exposure as well as notable studies to validate it in society’s eyes.