It may sound scary but Electroconvulsive Therapy is saving lives
LONDON, ONT. -- Kristin Legault has shared her stories of depression, suicide attempts and struggles with mental illness with CTV News over the years – but now she has a more positive outlook thanks to ECT.
“I have bipolar disorder, but I mainly struggle with severe episodes of depression,” explains Legault.
It’s been a struggle for her especially because she has battled mental illness throughout her teenage years and adult life.
“It’s been a profound struggle I have been hospitalized many, many times and I haven’t had long periods of stability.”
Kristin Legault, who lives with depression, speaks in London, Ont. on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (Celine Zadorsky / CTV London)
After hitting a very low point this past fall, and having to put her post-secondary education on hold, Legault decided to try something new, Electroconvulsive Therapy also known as ECT.
“A person who’s stuck in a state of depression, they feel like they can’t move from that state like their brains are jammed,” says Dr. Amer Burhan, physician lead for therapeutic brain stimulation at Parkwood Institute.
“By using ECT we are inducing a seizure and by doing that we are creating a disconnect of those networks that are over-connected and over-working.”
Burhan has been studying ECT for years and says patients he’s worked with have had their lives changed with this treatment.
“Really the rate of response is no less than 70 per cent in the worst-case scenario and I’ve gotten 90 per cent in those who are severely ill and who were going to die if I don’t treat them. There no doubt we should not miss on this treatment.”
However, Burhan knows ECT comes with a fear and stigma because people refer to it as “shock therapy.”
Legault didn’t let the stigma and fears of the treatment sway her, and after 10 treatments so far her family has even noticed a difference.
“She started to be brighter and more positive, almost like she’s a different person and she wasn’t depressed anymore. It’s been great,” says Joanne Donkers, Legault’s grandmother.
Legault says for the first time she feels hopeful when it comes to her mental health, and she wishes she had considered ECT sooner.
“Thanks to this treatment I’m now back at school taking four courses and I’m looking forward to my future. It’s really helped me and I’m really thankful for it.”