St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital offers ECT for those with severe mental health issues

File photo.
File photo. Google Maps / 2017

A treatment for those with severe depression and other severe mental health problems is now being offered at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH), meaning those who live in the region no longer have to make multiple trips to London for treatment.

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STEGH is now offering electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a procedure done under general anesthesia and muscle relaxant “where small electric currents are passed through the skull to trigger a brief seizure” and change the chemistry in the brain.

“ECT is a very safe option for certain mental health conditions, especially when medication isn’t tolerated or other treatments haven’t been successful,” said Giuseppe Guaiana, chief of psychiatry at STEGH.

“The electric currents are delivered in a controlled setting, which allows for the greatest benefit and the fewest risks.”

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On average, six to 12 treatments are required and each procedure takes about five to 10 minutes, not including preparation and recovery time.

Currently, residents of St. Thomas and Elgin County wait roughly two weeks for treatment in London, while offering ECT at STEGH will cut that wait down to four days and also reduce travel time.