ADHD Gene Testing

CADDAC National Director

Provided to CADDAC by Gina Pera author and educator

In recent years, biomedical research has identified many "drug-response genes.”  These are genes that wield a substantial impact on how people react to medications.

Several companies are making consumer-level tests available, with ADHD medications as well as with medications for depression and more. These purport to identify the kind of drug-response genes the consumer might have. For now, these tests require a physician’s prescription. That does not mean, however, that every physician ordering these tests know how to correctly interpret the results.

The point of this blog series: to help mental healthcare consumers understand how these test results might prove useful—and how the results are extremely limited.

Though far from perfect, these tests can now provide valuable insights into what drugs, at what dosage, might be best for treating your or your loved one’s ADHD— and which drugs might pose complications.

Points to note:

  1. The test is not diagnostic for ADHD
  2. The test does not indicate that anyone (ADHD or not) taking the test will achieve good therapeutic results from the medications in the “try these first” columns, in the sense that these medications will mitigate ADHD symptoms. For that, we look to the published literature examining the effectiveness of these medications. And we also consider individual response.
  3. Similarly, the test does not indicate that anyone with ADHD will not gain benefit from the medications in the “try these last” or “caution” category. It is extremely important to understand: The decision to rule out a medication should not be based on these tests.  Even if a drug poses complications, it does not mean the medication will not be the best choice for that individual.
  4. Our perspective is that these tests are perhaps most useful when it comes to indicating if an individual will metabolize a medication very quickly—or very slowly. This can inform the starting dosage and indicate if, even with the longer-acting medications, the person might need a much higher than average dose or perhaps even multiple daily doses.

ADHD Gene Testing Series: A Recap

Part 1  provides an overview to the topic of genetic testing as it relates to ADHD medication-response.

Part 2 shares testing results for my husband (who has ADHD) and me (who does not), along with my husband’s personal reactions to our disparate genes.

Part 3 defines what is meant by the term genotyping test. Briefly, it’s a test that informs you of your genetic particulars. Specifically for our purposes in this blog series, it refers to tests that identify which variants of the drug-response genes known to be associated with ADHD medications that you have.

Part 4 explains how, when, and why this data might prove helpful, delving more deeply into the topics of pharmacokinetics (what your body does to the medication) and pharmacodynamics (what the medication does to the body).

Part 5 reminds that genotyping data provides only one piece of the puzzle. There are many other factors that can affect how well a medication works for you, including overall health factors and co-existing conditions.

Part 6 looks at the specifics of Gina’s testing results,

Part 7 looks at the specifics of Gina’s testing results,

For more information of Gina's books and blog please access:

Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?


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