Genetic Markers do not Predict Response to Antidepressants


Researchers from 11 nations in Europe and North America find, in the largest study to date of possible links between genetic markers and antidepressant response, that “no single genetic variant, or combination of genetic variants, could predict response to antidepressant treatment. This study stands out against the background of numerous claims from commercial companies that genetic tests could help doctors decide which antidepressant to choose based on the results.” Results were published online by PL0S Medicine on October 16, 2012.

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Tansey, K., Guipponi, M., et al; Genetic Predictors of Response to Serotonergic and Noradrenergic Antidepressants in Major Depressive Disorder: A Genome-Wide Analysis of Individual-Level Data and a Meta-Analysis. PLoS Medicine, Online October 16, 2012

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. But of course the biological zealouts are still convinced that biomarkers are going to create “cures” for all mental illnesses!! First they need to know what it is that they want a biomarker for and then of course they would need to know what it is that needs to be fixed. And even then the chances of anything are non existant. Fact is you cannot find a cure for something that does not exist. How many more decades do people need to suffer before they will reconsider the stories they tell.

    Whitakers words in Mad in America “the day will come when people will look back at our current medicines for schizophrenia and the stories we tell to patients about their abnormal brain chemistry, and they will shake their heads in utter disbelief”.

    One could only wish that day could come sooner rather than later, as I fear it will never come in my lifetime. WHEN will these people have common sense?

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  2. Exactly! They will never find anything genetic no matter how hard they look and I think that they know this. But they continue to forcibly treat people with the toxic and harmful and destructive drugs. They day they shake their heads in disbelief can’t come soon enough. Meanwhile, people are getting pumped full of a supposed anti-psychotic at this very moment, many of them two year old children who can’t speak out for themselves. It’s totally disgusting.

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  3. We think this article does not give a clear representation of how genetic markers do affect outcome of side effects which contribute to a non therapeutic response.
    This paper, sponsored by numerous pharmaceutical companies, is essentially flawed because –

    Firstly the article states, “… not all common genetic variants were directly genotyped…”
    Since 75% of psychotropic drugs, including antidepressants, are metabolised via the highly variable CYP450 2D6 gene (Arehart-Treichel 2005), encoding for drug metabolising enzymes, surely the researchers should have included it. Neither is the variable CYP450 2C19 gene, that also metabolises SSRIs, included in the study.
    Why were both these important genes, related to antidepressant response not included in the study?

    Secondly, “Individuals were excluded for… non-European ethnicity admixture…” i.e. people of mixed race were excluded from the study. Could this be because a high number of BME people have genetic polymorphisms incompatible for efficient metabolisation of antidepressants?

    Thirdly, a “Diagnoses of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder… constituted exclusion criteria.” Individuals may have been given these diagnoses during the 6-12 week trial period due to toxic reactions (mania/ psychosis) because of an inability to metabolise antidepressants and subsequently excluded. Other people excluded prior to the trial may have also received their diagnosis following SSRI drugging for the same reasons. So these likely genetically diverse subjects of paramount importance as regards antidepressant drug metabolism are not reported in the study. There is lack of transparency re this issue.

    We are coming from a different slant. What we are looking at is human diversity and the different degrees of non reaction, (placebo – Irving Kirsch 2008), poisoning and adverse responses inflicted by SSRIs. Except it seems this study didn’t want to find any.
    Jan Evans & Catherine Clarke

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