Mental health treatment is tailored to suit each patient’s individual needs. Our team will work with you through individual and group therapies and medication support to help in your recovery such as understanding your illness, learning new coping skills, and connecting you with community resources for support after you leave the hospital.
In our unit, we provide a team approach to caring for our patients. Our staff include physicians, nurses, social workers, reactivation workers, a psychologist and an occupational therapist. You are an important member of this team and will be included in all stages of your care from admission to discharge. Family members and/or other supports can also be involved, with your permission. Our role during your stay is to support your treatment goals and enhance your recovery. We look forward to supporting you during your stay with us.
Privacy and Confidentiality
We all share the responsibility related to privacy and confidentiality. Please rest assured that all matters on the unit are treated as confidential and are not shared beyond the team and circle of care without your consent. Your information is kept private as outlined in the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA).
Electroconvulsive Therapy, or ECT, is a procedure used to treat severe depression and other mental illnesses. You may require this procedure as part of your care and treatment plan if your psychiatrist recommends it.
What is ECT treatment like?
ECT involves passing a small, controlled, electric current between two metal discs (electrodes) which are applied on the surface of the scalp. The two electrodes may be placed on one side of the head for unilateral ECT, or on both sides of the head for bilateral ECT. The electric current passes between the two electrodes and through part of the brain in order to stimulate the brain; that electrical stimulation induces a convulsion or seizure, which usually lasts from 20 to 90 seconds.
How does ECT work?
It is not totally understood how ECT relieves symptoms, as is the case with many medical treatments. It is believed that ECT affects some of the chemicals that transfer impulses or messages between nerve cells in the brain more strongly and quickly than some medications. The treatment may correct some of the biochemical changes that accompany the illness.
How effective is ECT?
Studies comparing the effectiveness of ECT and drug therapy in depression have consistently shown that ECT is the more effective treatment of depression, especially in patients whose illness does not respond adequately to drug treatment.
The total number of treatments required to get the full benefit from ECT may range from 6 to 20, depending on the patient’s diagnosis and response to treatment. In some patients, a response may be evident after 3 treatments; however, a full course is generally recommended to obtain a full response. Some patients require periodic or maintenance treatments to sustain their improvement.
How safe is ECT and what are the possible side effects?
ECT is considered a safe procedure. It has been demonstrated to be safe when given to elderly patients, as well as during pregnancy, with proper monitoring. Some side effects may occur including nausea, headaches, or fatigue. Your healthcare team can provide you with education and answer any questions or concerns you may have before starting treatment.
How do I prepare?
Patients are prepared for ECT in the same way that surgical patients are prepared for any procedure that needs an anaesthetic.
- Be sure you understand the consent and information that has been provided by your doctor or nurse. Ask them to explain anything about the treatment that you do not understand.
- Bathe or shower and wash your hair the night before or in the morning.
- Leave valuables (watch, jewelry, wallet, etc.) at home, if you are coming from home.
- Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before each treatment. Brushing your teeth and using mouthwash is fine.
- Remove nail polish and make-up, contact lenses and dentures.
- If you are an out-patient, please report to the hospital at 6:30am.
- Empty your bladder before treatment.
- An ECT nurse will be at the hospital to provide guidance from beginning to end
Medication usually taken in the morning should be taken after treatment. However, essential medication (e.g. for high blood pressure) that your physician has advised you take, may be taken with a sip of water. In addition, your physician may request that you not take certain medications the night before treatment.
- If you are an out-patient, have someone drive you to the hospital as you will not be allowed to drive or take the bus following treatment. Do not drive for at least 24 hours following the treatment.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Motrin) may be taken as prescribed every 4 to 6 hours if you have a headache. If you have a severe headache that does not respond to medication, call your doctor or visit a medical clinic.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Motrin) may be taken as prescribed for muscle stiffness. A warm bath is also helpful.
- Be prepared to rest during the day.
- You may be discharged no earlier than 9:30 to 10:00 am.
- Smoking is not allowed until 12:00 noon the day of treatment.
- Because you may have some confusion or memory loss, do not make important personal or business decisions for 24 hours.
- Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours.
Please take the time to watch the Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) video.