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the microsampling blog

how therapeutic drug monitoring helps mental health treatment

Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) helps in managing patients who are undergoing psycho-pharmacotherapy. TDM is essential in preventing therapeutic nonresponse and adverse drug reactions. It also enables dose adjustment, determination of drug adherence and monitoring of pharmacokinetic drug-drug interactions.

The process of measuring therapeutic drug levels in patients is typically performed through routine blood draws and the quantification of blood, plasma or serum concentrations for dose optimization.

As the awareness of the importance of personalized treatment has increased, TDM has become essential. TDM acts as a tool that helps practitioners apply precision medicine. In neurology and psychiatry, the process is used in several patient subgroups taking therapeutic drugs:

  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Elderly
  • Mental health patients
  • Pregnant women

Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Mental Health

Therapeutic drug monitoring for patients taking medications for mental health issues is crucial, as it ensures they receive the greatest benefit from their medical therapy. Patients with mental conditions like bipolar disorder and depression often require medications that can, unfortunately, cause negative side effects.

However, because these medications can also be quite beneficial, it is important to find the correct dose for each unique patient to avoid problems. Monitoring of drug concentration levels in a person's blood can help determine which dosing is correct for their medical benefit, while also preventing toxicity and side-effects.

Routine TDM helps providers detect any drug-related complications at an early stage before they become severe. TDM is more than just measuring the drug concentrations in blood, serum, or plasma to establish a correlation between the desired or adverse effects and dosage in the blood. It also helps healthcare providers identify failed therapy with a particular medication, and then devise a more successful treatment plan with a different medication.


Drug Monitoring for Mental Health Interventions

Drug monitoring in mental health treatment is partly conducted through blood testing to determine a drugs’ specific concentration in a person's system — often at different time points. Unfortunately, consistent blood draws may be uncomfortable or stressful, and can also put some patients at-risk for blood loss. To prevent these problems, mental health providers can use less invasive blood collection techniques like microsampling, which requires only a few drops of blood.

Patients in a remote patient monitoring program can easily use portable microsampling devices to self-collect blood samples and send them to their care provider or lab. Once physicians receive their patient's lab results, they can follow-up via video chat, phone, or email to discuss any necessary changes in care. The portability of such tools makes them easy to use, handle, and carry around.


Importance of Blood Testing in Mental Health

Blood testing for drug monitoring is fast becoming crucial in mental health treatment where therapeutic drugs are needed. Blood test results help physicians assess the right dosage for patients, monitor their adherence to a medical treatment plan, and identify failed therapy. Drug monitoring is also vital in preventing toxicity arising from the use of antidepressants and mood stabilizers that may have negative side effects at certain doses.

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