You’re feeling under the weather, with a cough that just won’t go away, so you decide to visit your doctor. After a few minutes of one-on-one time, with some poking and prodding, you may be walking out of the office with a prescription in hand and on the way to feeling better. How much more personal does it get? Perhaps not surprisingly, it can get a lot more personal, and it has nothing to do with your doctor, and everything to do with science.
In our current system of medicine, your treatment plan has very little to do with you specifically; most likely it is the exact same treatment your doctor would give to anyone with the same condition. Medicine today is based on “standards of care,” the most prudent course of prevention or treatment for the general population. With medication treatment for depression, for example, those standards may mean treatment with an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), followed by a second trial if the first one fails. If the second treatment fails, doctors and patients move on to the next one and the next in a trial and error approach.