On Mental Health


 Mending a broken mind

What does sadness sound like? ‘Cells firing five to 30 times per second,’ and making it stop is a matter of ‘location, location, location,’ says the surgeon leading a team of Canadian pioneers who are restoring the lives of the deeply depressed

June 27, 2008

The first time I met Sean Miller, we were strangers waiting in a corridor at the outpatient psychiatry unit of Toronto General Hospital. He was the redhead, wearing a grey sweatshirt, jeans and a 100-watt smile. “Popular place,” he said.

He looked rosy and energized, as if he had been for a run. “Pretty warm out there today,” he added. He mentioned rain in the forecast and cracked a joke about the “nice weather” we had been having. Then a door opened down the hall and he waved goodbye – “See ya!”

A few minutes later, Peter Giaccobe, a 33-year-old psychiatrist, beckoned me to his office. “It’s fine,” he said. “You can come in.”

I had been waiting to observe Dr. Giaccobe’s 4 o’clock emergency appointment. Emergencies are routine in psychiatry. Patients turn up worried about a medication, feeling manic or fighting off suicidal thoughts.

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