Recommendations Presented on Genetic Testing in Psychiatry

Guidelines emphasize that common genetic variants are not sufficient to cause psychiatric disorders

genetic helix

FRIDAY, March 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Recommendations have been developed for the use of genetic testing in psychiatric care, according to a statement published by the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics (ISPG).

Francis J. McMahon, M.D., from the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues reviewed the available evidence and provided guidance related to the value of clinical genetic testing in psychiatry.

The authors note that common genetic variants alone are not sufficient to cause psychiatric disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, substance dependence, or schizophrenia. An overall risk score can be produced by combining genotypes from large numbers of common variants, but the clinical value is unclear. Growing evidence indicates that pathogenic variants with large effects on brain function play a causative role in a significant minority of individuals with psychiatric disorders. Identification of known pathogenic variants may help diagnose rare conditions. Diagnostic or genome-wide genetic testing should include counseling by a professional with expertise in mental health and genetic test interpretation. The possibility of incidental findings should be communicated whenever genome-wide testing is performed. Education programs and curricula should be developed and disseminated to enhance knowledge of genetic medicine among trainees and mental health professionals. Research efforts should be promoted to identify relevant genes and clarify the role of genetic testing and its use in psychiatric care.

"The fact that the committee could not reach consensus on every aspect speaks to the complexity of the issues," Thomas G. Schulze, M.D., president of the ISPG, said in a statement.

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Updated on May 27, 2022

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