Poor mental health translates to poor physical health and quality of life, yet over 40% of the global population reports chronic stress. With precision medicine, this stress epidemic can potentially be addressed with innovative, personalized technologies to improve health, longevity and feelings of fulfillment.
Stress has become a global epidemic, and there are no signs that this will change anytime soon. According to Euromonitor’s annual survey, stress levels have been elevated for years and persistently higher than ever since COVID-19. In fact, since 2019, nearly half of respondents reported moderate levels of stress. Globally, 41% of all adults also said they have had intense feelings of stress.
These record-high numbers mean that we need a new approach to mental health. Fortunately, precision medicine has begun unlocking a brand-new personalized, effective mental health care era. Innovations like tailored psychotherapy, bespoke medications and supplements, individualized recommendations and better early detection and intervention are all paving the way for happier, healthier, longer lives.
Four Ways Precision Medicine is Revolutionizing Global Mental Health
1. Early-stage detection and intervention
Early detection is a life-saving capability demonstrated in the medical field for decades. However, applying that same ability to mental health is less straightforward because it can present differently from one individual to the next. However, mental disorders are responsible for 33% of all global disability, causing immense burdens on society and individuals.
One of the most promising avenues is leveraging AI’s ability to parse data to help doctors develop more accurate systems for the early detection of mental health disorders. While this is still an emerging field, research shows it has tremendous potential to help healthcare professionals offer early interventions for better quality of life.
2. Tailored psychotherapy and medications
Precision pharmacotherapy is a tremendous opportunity for alleviating stress and improving mental health. Medication has always been only somewhat effective for patients, and doctors often have to spend months or years testing different combinations of medicines and non-pharmacotherapy to find a treatment that provides lasting improvement.
With precision medicine, there is now the potential to incorporate an individual’s genetic makeup, unique lifestyle, biomarkers, nutrition and environmental interactions into a treatment plan. This is done by integrating machine learning and deep learning AI into the current diagnostic framework, meaning each patient can now access tailored treatments that are more likely to be effective.
These same tools also offer future risk prediction. In one set of studies, researchers were able to use blood biomarkers to track and predict the risk of mood disorders, stress levels, suicidal ideation and even memory problems and Alzheimer’s. Utilizing these precision medicine technologies allows for far more accurate diagnostics and prediction of future risk than the traditional methods of self-reporting, which are not objective and often unreliable.
3. Digitalized mental health tools
From always-available therapy chatbots to digital twins, precision mental health’s digital footprint is ultimately shifting the treatment paradigm. This, combined with the fact that 60% of patients would rather access their care digitally, means the digital mental health space has tons of potential for precision medicine innovations.
For instance, some companies are leveraging physiological and digital data to help patients and care providers gain long-term, objective data that can be mapped to their emotional states. This helps with predictive insights and patient-centered care.
Additionally, research is being conducted on using digital twins to potentially design and optimize mental health treatments for an individual in a digitally simulated therapeutic scenario. With this technology, it’s possible to run through many iterations of treatment plans and see immediate feedback on how effective a particular program may be. This would lead to better, safer patient outcomes and fewer wasted resources that can be reinvested into further improving care.
4. Bespoke nutritional supplements
Precision medicine is often described as delivering “the right treatment to the right person at the right time.” In many cases, this translates to the ability to offer highly personalized preventive care and maintenance before health problems spiral out of control.
One of the best ways to do this is through bespoke nutritional supplementation. Nutritional deficiencies are frequently overlooked when treatment plans are being developed. Still, they can play a significant role in better mental, physical and emotional health, boosting longevity and quality of life.
Even those who believe they have a good understanding of the relationship between nutrition and mental health may not fully realize that nutritional needs change over time, and not adjusting diet and supplementation to match those changes can harm mental and physical health. This can be as seemingly simple as feeling more fatigued during the day or as severe as experiencing chronic stress, depression or anxiety.
Utilizing machine learning models, companies can now offer patients extremely individualized, targeted supplements, often with something as simple as a blood test or access to pertinent health information. Then, patients can have supplements that fill in the nutritional gaps created just for them instead of having to go to the store, guess which vitamins and dosages they need, and hope their bodies will absorb the nutrients.
Precision Medicine is the Future of a Happier, Healthier Society
Precision medicine has thus far proven to be effective in improving mental health issues and assisting patients and care providers with treating mental health issues. From digital twins for tweaking treatment plans to personalized supplements for better nutrition, the ability to give complex, tailor-made care that addresses the problems of stress, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues on multiple levels means that the future of precision medicine is bright and full of possibilities.
About the Author
Vadim Fedotov, CEO and co-founder of Bioniq. Ex-professional basketball player and a C-level executive with more than 10 years of corporate experience. Sports-related injuries opened up the world of health optimization to him. Driven by the mission to make health more accessible and actionable, founded Bioniq in 2019.
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