Genetic counseling: A novel approach to treat psychiatric disorders

Genetic counseling: A novel approach to treat psychiatric disorders

Counseling is not only about giving advice to help people in decision-making, it is also about treating certain mental dysfunctions, generally overlooked by people. Problem-solving is not what we expect in counseling, what we seek is a proactive approach towards understanding what is happening with a person who is vehemently trying to overcome his mental instabilities.

Genetic counseling can be a novel approach towards treating mental disorders. According to a study by the University of British Columbia (UBC), published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in February 2016, genetic counseling can be an effective treatment procedure for people suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions.

Genetic counseling is a process to enhance patient care by providing necessary information about the complexities of inheriting psychiatric disorders and the associated risks of recurrence, the study said. It can simplify informed decision-making, alleviate misconceptions and reduce stigma through an improved understanding of the genetic cause of psychiatric disorders, and offer support to patients and their families.

Individuals suffering from serious mental illnesses are now turning towards genetic counseling, an intervention showing unprecedented efficacy in enhancing patient knowledge and adaptation. The study aimed to examine the effects of genetic counseling on people with serious mental illness issues as compared to an educational intervention.

Genetic counseling can help reduce stigma attached with psychiatric disorders

This study is the first of its kind to show the significance of genetic counseling on mental illnesses. According to the researchers, counseling should be more apparent in the treatment procedures so that it can help a patient understand the real cause of the disorder, the genetic component associated with it and the ways and means to curb the condition.

As part of the study, the researchers conducted a randomized control trial on patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or schizoaffective disorders. They offered counseling sessions to some participants, while others were devoid of any such session.

“People with mental health problems often feel guilty, ashamed or stigmatized about where the illness came from and this has a profound effect on how they feel,” said Austin, a member of UBC’s Institute of Mental Health and Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.

Austin’s previous work highlighted how people with mental illnesses often come up with their own versions of causes, if they do not find a valid explanation about their existing mental condition. These explanations are not grounded in evidence, and thus, people start believing that there is an increasing risk of mental illness in their family. Sometimes, this belief becomes so strong in some people that they choose not to bear children at all or have fewer than they would like to have.

The study tried to bury these misconceptions by using genetic counseling. In fact, the researchers signaled that genetic counseling could help reduce stigma attached to psychiatric disorders. It can also raise the possibility of a patient to control his illness.

The study paves the way for the initiation of novel treatment programs for mental health conditions. It provides a sneak peek into the promising effects of genetic counseling, which can help a person understand the cause of their illness better, enhance their coping skills and make them manage their guilt and distress.

Traditionally, genetic counseling was used for those conditions, which occurred solely due to genes. However, using it for mental disorders will open a new dimension to treatments. “People often blame themselves for the illness they are living with. We helped people better understand the cause of their illness and helped them uncover issues like guilt and distress,” Austin said.

Way ahead

Mental disorders, like schizophrenia, bipolar and others, have detrimental effects on the life of an individual. Only a comprehensive treatment program involving pharmacological and psychological therapies can work well, depending on the patient’s situation.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental illness, please consult the qualified representatives in the Florida Mental Health Helpline to know more about mental disorder treatment in Florida. You can chat online or call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-846-5588 to get access to the best treatment for mental disorders in Florida.