Test Your DNA to Determine Your Reality
“We got to have a re-vote. This ain’t right”
—Snoop Dogg, on discovering that he has more European ancestry than Charles Barkley
“DNA + Environment + Triggers + Chance = “Biological You.” Swab your cheek and begin the journey to alter your physical reality.”
—Bruce Alan Kehr, M.D.
What is Reality? To me, this question is becoming the defining theme of 2018. On a political, cultural, moral, and even a spiritual level, many of my patients and friends seem to be participating in the same struggle to define how things actually are, how they “should be”, and whether they can be changed in the first place. What is real, and what is an illusion? What is acceptable, and what is one forced to accept? The line between what’s permanent and what’s shifting in our society and on a personal level seems to be blurrier than ever. The struggle reminds me of one of America’s most quoted poems: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” These simple words, which form the first paragraph of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer seem more relevant than ever as we try to determine: Which aspects of my life are out of my control—and which aspects can I change? What must we learn to live with, and what can we take into our own hands? For many of the individuals I work with, their genetic destiny, built into their very DNA, is a foregone conclusion: “I am who I am, and I just need to accept it.” I plan to upend that belief by taking you on a scientific journey through your own genetic code— your personal double helix—to help you determine how your genes may define the “Biological You,” and how (in certain instances) you can tell them how you want to be defined. So far, we’ve discussed the roles of your environment, epigenetics, and the biopsychosocial model in offering you the opportunity to take control of your destiny. This week, I’m providing the missing link—the first of two tests I use to help my patients decipher their own genetic code. Think of these tests as determining “Your Actionable DNA.”
As the “Whatever It Takes” psychiatrist, I insist on having every cutting-edge tool at my disposal to help my patients feel better, recover their health, and determine their destiny. Incredibly valuable tools are Genomind’s* Genecept and Mindful DNA assays. Many types of DNA tests have gained in popularity over the last half-decade: 23andMe, Ancestry, MyHeritage, and LivingDNA are but a few examples. Millions of Americans have paid significant fees to send their DNA samples in for testing, with the overwhelming majority of these tests basing their results based on statistical analysis (for example, what Snoop Dogg was protesting above). They tell you where your ancestry began, whether or not you have lactose intolerance, if your muscles are built for long-distance or short-distance running, etcetera. These tests may well answer some important questions. However, when it comes to your present and future emotional and physical health, Genomind’s Genecept and Mindful DNA Assays are on a different plane altogether.
How is Genomind different? While many genetic tests are fun and insightful, they don’t necessarily provide a blueprint for change. In my quest to do whatever it takes to serve my patients and their mental health, what I increasingly rely upon are tests help me design that blueprint.
Genomind’s tests determine certain of our genetic variations (mutations in our genome), and tell us exactly what we can begin to tweak to make our emotional and physical lives healthier and more prolonged. They enhance our Healthspan. The Genecept Assay specifically outlines a comprehensive group of key genes, selected based on hundreds of studies showing that variations in these genes can inform treatment decisions in psychiatry. The benefits of such a specific test are clear as day: clinicians reported that when treatment was guided by the Genecept Assay, 87% of their patients showed improvement. Reader: This is huge. Many in my profession continue to believe that successful treatment must rely upon a happy accident of years of trial and error. This can wreak havoc on the lives of individual patients and their families as well. And to me, Whatever It Takes does not mean Whatever it takes…eventually. It means taking an active, aggressive, more precise approach that helps my patients get better as soon as possible!
The Genecept Assay analyzes the genes responsible for a person’s mood stability (or lack thereof), their tendency towards depression and weight gain, their proclivity towards opioid or alcohol addiction, and so much more. Not uncommonly, there is an “Aha Moment” when we review the test results. Many of my patients will weep for joy, or say, “I knew it, all these years people told me I was imagining my problems, and now this explains so much about me, it vindicates me!” The Genecept Assay provides them a blueprint that outlines problem areas (the things they do have to “Accept”) and solutions available to them (where they can alter their present and future reality) This empowers both my patients and me to pursue those solutions at a pace that suits their needs.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” While none of us can alter the “reality” presented by the 24/7 news cycle, we can all learn how to positively influence the reality brought about by the expression of many of our genes, to improve our health and well-being. My series, DNA: I Am Who I Am… Or Am I?, is written with the express goal of helping you know the difference between acceptance and what you can change. Next week: we begin our journey toward specific epigenetic solutions, one gene at a time.
(*I hold no ownership interest in Genomind)
If you would like to feel better and function more effectively through genetic testing, order my new book, Becoming Whole: A Healing Companion to Ease Emotional Pain and Find Self-Love, to learn more and receive an autographed copy.
Proceeds from your purchase of my book will be used to directly help victims of child abuse.