Since the pandemic began, many have felt the effects on their mental health. The CDC reported in June that over 40% of Americans suffered an adverse mental or behavioral health condition, with anxiety and depressive disorders topping the list. By mid-July, 53% of U.S. adults said their mental health was negatively impacted by stress and worry due to the pandemic, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. As the pandemic continues, these stressors are likely to impact more people every day.
Are you or your family members likely to suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health issues? If so, what can you do to support your — or your loved one’s — mental health?
First, it helps to uncover your predisposition toward certain traits or mental conditions. Just as you might seek information about your genetic predisposition for illnesses to guide your lifestyle choices, discovering your genetic traits related to mental health can help support your emotional well-being.
Thanks to a breakthrough in the translation of genetic mechanisms and traits that can influence a person’s behavioral predispositions, the Genomind Mental Health Map provides a springboard anyone can use to take action toward better mental wellness. Mental health is a function of genetics, environment, lifestyle and experiences. This is called “Mental Health 360.”
Dr. Scott Wiener, a board-certified psychiatrist focused on a biological based holistic approach, uses genetic information as a vital tool. “For far too long the practice of psychiatry has only utilized symptoms in the assessment of someone’s mental health. Evolving science has now given us the opportunity to assess the biological causes underlying those symptoms,” says Wiener. “Genomind is an essential tool in this advanced process of creating a more complete picture of mental health.”
Unlike some ancestry tests that have a spit tube for collection, you only supply a cheek swab sample for Genomind’s test. They then analyze 38 genetic variants and influences on 29 mental health traits, resulting in a report detailing 59 possible behavioral predispositions specific to your genetic profile. Genomind provides resources and recommended actions from trusted advocacy groups to help improve your wellness and quality of life.
The Genomind Mental Health Map identifies 7 Core Genetic Mental Health Capabilities:
1. Stress and anxiety
3. Focus and memory
5. Eating behavior
6. Social behavior
7. Habits and substance use
Exploring your genetic predispositions in these seven crucial areas increases your self-awareness and empowers you to take steps toward better self-care.
Stress and anxiety
If you are one of many who have the variant of the gene involved in stress hormone regulation (FKBP5), you may experience a heightened stress response.
Knowing that this variant may contribute to your stress response allows you to target this biological mechanism to help regulate it. For example, supplements such as magnesium and/or rhodiola rosea have been shown to help. You can also try mindfulness techniques like grounding exercises and meditation.
Sleep and focus
Or you may find you have a variant of the gene associated with excessive brain cell signaling (CACNA1C), which can result in traits such as:
- Trouble falling asleep
You can target this mechanism with supplements shown to stabilize it, like omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. You could also make changes in your behavior or environment, such as reevaluating your sleep habits and schedule.
A variant of a gene that encodes for a protein critical to brain cell growth and repair (BDNF) is associated with predispositions involving memory and stress response, which may affect your working memory and stress levels.
Fortunately, BDNF levels can be boosted through exercise. People with this variant are even more likely to benefit from the brain-enhancing effects of exercise than people without it. Knowing you have this predisposition may help jump-start your exercise routine.
Knowledge is power
Discovering your genetic predispositions and their potential impact on your mental wellness can help you prevent problems before they develop, or reduce them if they already exist.
“At Potomac Psychiatry, we have used genetic testing to evaluate over 2000 patients, and have found it to be a highly effective tool to provide a patient with critically important information,” says award-winning psychiatrist and author Dr. Bruce Kehr. “Understanding genetic predispositions and implementing associated epigenetic recommendations will likely result in better mental health outcomes.”
Knowledge of your genetic predispositions is a vital tool for boosting your overall mental health and well-being — especially during challenging times.