MTHFR: Gene testing for mutations….the results explain my family’s illnesses

Since my son’s death I have had to be a detective in searching for answers that could justify his death by suicide, as is indicated as the cause on his death certificate. Long before he died I knew he struggled with mood swings and depression. Some of it I thought was the usual teen angst issues but it followed him into adulthood. Certain situations would make it worse. During the same time, his older sister by three years was also experiencing severe anger and rebellion. Again, I thought it was all to do with hormones ( after high school, she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder while in the Navy…the cause of her medical discharge.) In my mind, both of them had no reason to be so distraught. They had a good life, a good family, love was all around them, they had everything as best as we could afford materially, they were brought up in the church, and as parents, we were very involved with their schooling and extracurricular events. We gave all we had to give. Their ‘bad’ situations were from outside our family, manifested in mostly their relationships with the opposite sex.

I do not know how many of my ancestors had to cope with mental illness but I do know my father did, I have a sister who does, her son, my niece and nephew, and I had anxiety disorder for many years. Recently, my doctor told me of a blood test that tests for genetic mutations. It is called MTHFR; short for a very long scientific name. He told me about it after I had explained the trouble I have had taking medications…adverse affects, usually. He had wanted to put me on anti-depressants and I told him that I would never take them again, my daughter has had nothing but bad results, and that I thought that zoloft may have been one of the reasons for my son’s death, not to mention that I know ambien caused memory loss for my son and my sister. It has left me with a very bad taste for medications of any kind. I barely finished telling him all this when he excitedly shared with me about a blood test that could explain a defective gene that could quite possibly be my/family’s problem. It detects a predisposition to different kinds of diseases.  Needless to say, I was excited to know, but on the other hand, I thought that it came too late for my son. But, I had to know for my other children and grandchildren. I could then have proof for the biological reason that my son died.

The doctor tried to explain the results which was that I tested positive for the MTHFR gene defect. I am in the lowest (25%) who have this….the worst possible result.  It means that my body lacks an enzyme that has everything to do with folic acid in my system. There is a costly prescribed supplement (Deplin) that will help metabolize folic acid. There is a list of diseases that I am predisposed to because of this defect one of which is mental illness, specifically, ADD/ADHD  and depression/anxiety. Because I had no folic acid in my system (this is my understanding) my children did not receive folic acid in the womb. The lack of folic acid can disturb fetal development. I asked the doctor if this could have affected my children’s brains and he said it most certainly could have. It also is a reason for miscarriages. I had one and my youngest daughter had several. Below is a few sites that explain the MTHFR gene test. It is difficult for me to explain in a fundamental way. There is so much to absorb. I can hardly understand it all or what to do with all I now know. It is sad to think that maybe I should never have been born….or that I should never have had children so that they would not have been born with such horrific mental illness. What can we do with this information? It explains a lot, but is there a cure? Will this new supplement/medication be the answer? How much are we held accountable in God’s eyes when we had no say in the matter with what we are born? Many thoughts go rambling through my brain about this. I wonder as God was knitting me into my mother’s womb…my children into mine…our “fearfully, wonderfully made” selves…what was He thinking?

I pray for better understanding and trust on this matter.


11 thoughts on “MTHFR: Gene testing for mutations….the results explain my family’s illnesses

    • I know. Perhaps there is some kind of hope with knowing that depression is not just a controlled state of being but rather an uncontrolled condition that we are born with. Not our fault.

  1. This is a very informative blog post Dale…I had no idea about this mutation. I read all of the articles and am more convinced than ever about why it’s important to: “Judge not lest ye be judged! We just have no idea what struggles BIOLOGICALLY people are attempting to overcome-a daunting task, to say the least.

    Thank you for sharing this, and I hope you are doing “OK” with the distressing test results.

    Love to you and Brandon Bear,

  2. Thank you, Donna. The info makes it abundantly clear that we all have something in our genes that is defective. The fall of mankind? I thought of the exact verse you quoted about “not judging” when I first learned of all that this test implies. Sadly, what I think we are most guilty of is being born. Love always….

  3. A friend and colleague went through tests with her husband to see if they had the gene for Schizphrenia…the guilt they live every day of their genius son who struggles to live on his own now. They did not have the gene, the culprit…cannabis that triggered his condition. I took a course for families and friends of mental health last year…not as a counseloor but as a sibling of someone suffering Borderline Personality Disorder. I was relieved to understand that it is not a chemical imbalance…it is a personality disorder and it is treatable and there is recovery. The parents there with youths in their 20’s were amazing, caring parents. The psychologist explained, “We don’t want to know the why…if there was abuse becuase many times there is no abuse…just a perception of a person that switches and they need to learn to first be aware and then learn to manage it. I found that encouraging although to many professionals do not know how to work with persons with this condition…they are often overly drugged which can make it worse. I have suffered depression off and on, it does not define me…like my mother had it define her but it has allowed me to understand my clients. I pray you learn to understand more but not blame yourself…life is too short. I am 62 and trying to make the best of each day.

  4. Pingback: GeneSightRx, CYP450, and Antidepressants | Mental Dimensions

  5. I know you have all these thoughts Dale but don’t blame yourself. We are who we are for a reason. We go through everything we go through for a reason. It’s never easy at all. Ryan Blair in the documentary ‘Nothing to Lose’, says, “…all pain in life is derived to make you stronger; a battle test from God. The greater the test, the greater the strength you will derive from it”.

    You have learnt so much and will continue learning a lot on these issues. You have spread the word to so many people who would never have known about all this if you hadn’t been born. You are here for a reason.

    I hope there will be a cure soon.

  6. Thank you, Paul. I also hope there will be a cure one day soon. At least for now it helps that we become more informed on the subject and exercise compassion towards those who are mentally ill. I believe we do become stronger by life’s trials. My son had no chance it seems. God has mercy on the downtrodden and brokenhearted.

  7. Pingback: MTHFR: Gene testing for mutations….the results explain my family’s illnesses | In the Wake of Suicide….trying to understand | Meditation and Mental Health

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