The right kind of treatment

After living with treatment resistant depression for years, Lori Linton is feeling rejuvenated thanks to innovations in mental health care
Lori Linton

Two years ago, Lori Linton felt she was running out of options. Struggling with a number of heartbreaking difficulties, her situation wasn’t improving. She was grieving the loss of her spouse and dealing with troubling family issues. She was also recovering from several health problems, including a heart attack and Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a type of cancer. Mentally and emotionally, Lori’s burdens were crippling.

Lori’s physician prescribed a number of different medications to address her mental health, but little changed. To make matters worse, the negative side effects of the medications were starting to take a toll. She was dealing with what physicians call treatment resistant depression (TRD), which is when patients don’t respond to any kind of treatment – even after many years of multiple therapies.

Referred to St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Parkwood Institute Mental Health Care Building, Lori was able to benefit from a new TRD assessment model and physicians determined she was a perfect candidate for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses electric stimulation to regulate neural activity in the brain. Lori began treatment right away and within weeks she felt rejuvenated.

“By the third week, I felt great. I could have finished then and I would have been happy. By the time the treatment was done, I was so much better. I felt as good as I did when I was younger.”

Dr. Viraj Mehta, a Psychiatrist and Site Chief for Mental Health Care at St. Joseph’s, estimates that about 10% of individuals with depression do not respond to traditional therapies and medications, and about 30% only partially respond. It’s crucial to gather a holistic view of each patient’s unique condition using specially designed questionnaires, as well as physical and cognitive assessments. Having a comprehensive assessment and access to the right kind of treatment is what made the difference for Lori. The cloud of depression she had been living with for years lifted in just a few weeks.

Lori Linton paddling a kayak, wearing sunglasses and a hat, smiling

The true test came a few months after Lori finished treatment, when she experienced yet another family crisis. While it was stressful to deal with, she was able to do so without the darkness of her depression returning. Today, even during these uncertain times of the pandemic, Lori is in good health and able to make every day count.

Lori’s positive experience was made possible through the generosity of donors. The TMS machine that transformed her life was fully funded through donations to St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation. It’s an example of how donor dollars help improve and even save lives by investing in health care innovation and discovery that would otherwise not be possible.

A team of physicians and psychiatrists led by Dr. Mehta are now in need of community support to help transform how TRD is diagnosed with the goal of ensuring that patients receive the best possible care and recover faster. St. Joseph’s offers several treatments for TRD including medication, talk therapy, electroconvulsive therapy and TMS.

“The tools are here – they just need to be matched to the right person at the right time,” says Dr. Mehta.”

With this new approach, St. Joseph’s could become the first specialized facility in Canada to comprehensively assess and measure TRD, allowing the team of mental health specialists to expand research and treatments to enhance recovery for people living with TRD.

This story appeared in Issue 03 of My St. Joseph's. View more inspiring stories from the magazine.

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Donor funding is needed to enhance research into treatment resistant depression (TRD) and care for patients struggling with this debilitating mental health issue. 

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