To Know or Not to Know2023-08-13

Without knowledge action is useless and knowledge without action is futile.

Abu Bakr

As objective diagnostic tools are improving, and medicine is moving towards preventive care, there is a dilemma for patients in whether they want to know they have something, or are at risk for something.

If it is a risk for disease farther away in the future, with significant financial costs and in terms of quality of life, and with not much than can be done to prevent it or about it once it manifests, people may prefer not to know. Huntington’s Disease is an example. At the other extreme are disorders that are present or imminent, that can be prevented or treated at relatively little cost or disruption to one’s life, and where treatments are effective and well tolerated. An example is Type 2 diabetes.

Where does mental health fall on this spectrum? There is still stigma, the diseases are viewed as life changing, treatments are perceived to be not very effective, or with side-effects. People may chose not to know if they have a genetic risk far away in the future, like for Huntington’s. However, blood biomarkers transform the equation and make things more like Type II diabetes. They are best at detecting present or imminent risk, match people to treatments that are more likely to work in that person, and importantly remove stigma and uncertainty by showing something objective. We are working hard to make mental health blood biomarkers become as routine and informative as blood glucose and hemoglobin A1C.

Live. Happier. Longer.