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30 March 2008 @ 02:41 pm
There are people being *wrong* on the internet!  
Just got my attention drawn to this at Bipolar Mo.

Some company have made what they claim is a genetic test for bipolar disorder. They also have a test which claims to show whether a person is more likely to benefit from SSRIs. These tests cost $399 each (about £200) and $750 for the pair (about £375).

This news article about the test on Yahoo News tells you a little more about these tests.

"Among hundreds of families Kelsoe has studied, one of the gene variations in the Psynomics test showed up in 1 percent of those unaffected by the disorder versus 3 percent who are affected. The other variation appeared in 7 percent of those without bipolar compared to 15 percent who have the disease.

This would seem to imply that the first test is 97% inaccurate (with a 1% false positive possibility, but that's not too bad) and the second test is 85% inaccurate (with a 7% false positive possibility, which is slightly more worrying).

In addition, "Psynomics will send patients' test results only to their doctors to avoid the risk of self-diagnosis." Apparently they're concerned about people making self-diagnoses after they've sold them a HOME TESTING KIT.

This actually makes me quite angry. If it was more accurate I'd be substantially more impressed with it, although even a 100% accurate genetic test can only show a predisposition, not that you actually have a mental illness, because mental illness is not wholly determined by genetics. But this is just a way of taking money off gullible hypochondriacs. It claims to help treatment - how, precisely? Does it take away the bipolar? Does it tell you exactly what type, brand, dose and delivery method of medication you need? Mental health treatment is more an art than a science, and the real trouble with dealing with the illness often comes after the diagnosis when you start on the med-go-round, a process that usually takes years at best and possibly even a lifetime. It also only works for white North Europeans who are already showing symptoms. The word 'pointless' springs to mind. It also takes responsibility for diagnosis away from psychiatrists, as it gives them something else to blame if they're wrong.

I could compare this test to the first release of Windows Vista, but that would be crass as Vista is an OS and this test could actually seriously fuck with people's lives, and even at best it will just leave them considerably poorer. Psynomics, come back when you've got a clue what you're talking about.
Chemical Level: frustratedRAAAAR!
Aural Sedation: the humming of my computer