Electroshock therapy


Electroshock therapy what is it? How does it work? What is it used for and what

comes from it? This paper will answer all of these questions and will also try to prove that

electroshock therapy is useful and not as bad as it appears to be.



Electroshock therapy is an old process of ridding schizophrenia, and depression,

and suicidal tendencies. It is used when people with major depression are taking too many

anti depressant drugs, canít take the side-effects of their medication, or they are taking too

many drugs and anti-depressant drugs are too risky to take. It is also used to irradiate

certain cases of schizophrenia and is being studied to treat dementia. (Mental Illness

Assessment and Treatment p.78). Convulsive therapy using drugs rather than electricity

was introduced in 1934 by Hungarian neuropsychiatrist Ladisles meduna , who speculated

that seizures (similar to the ones occurring in epilepsy) could probably alleviate mental

disorders. He based his theory on the belief that epileptic seizures prevented the

symptoms of schizophrenia. Although this was a good theory, the drugs administered to

the patients to induce these seizures was too risky to the patients lives. In 1937

psychiatrists started using electric shocks to induce seizures. In 1939 ECT was in wide

use in the United States. In those days ECT was unrefined and resulted in many

complications and was terribly abused. Today ECT is more refined, safe, and effective

(Mental Illness Assessment and Treatment p.78).



How does it work? Electroshock therapy or ECT involves exposing the brain to

carefully controlled pulses of electric current that induce brief seizures. The reason why

electroshock therapy relieves depression is still unknown. Researchers believe that

Electroshock therapy alters monoamine function, as do the anti-depressant drugs. The

process of inducing seizures through electroshock is not as complicated or as dangerous

as people think. The patient is placed in a specially equipped room, where a clinical team

first issues intravenous general anesthetic. After this a muscle relaxant is given to the

patient. Oxygen is administered and an electric current is applied through electrodes. The

patient undergoing the ECT does not feel the electric current, and the only reaction

noticeable is the patients toes curling (Mental Illness Assessment and Treatment p.78).

The placing of electrodes is still a matter of ongoing research. In unilateral treatment the

electrodes are placed two or three inches apart on the same side of the head. The side that

is chosen is the same side as the dominant hand. This method is said to reduce short term

memory loss and confusion, another method of ECT is placing the electrodes over both

temples. This method is proved to work better than unilateral treatment(Mental Illness

Assessment and Treatment p.79). Electroshock therapy consists of a series of treatments,

a patient is usually scheduled for two to three times a week for six to twelve treatments of

depression. The treatment tine for schizophrenia is usually twenty-five to thirty treatment.

The entire ECT process takes anywhere from twenty to forty minutes from start to finish

(Mental Illness Assessment and Treatment p.79).



Even though ECT predominantly effective, there are many risks involved including

drowsiness and confusion for about an hour. Short-term memory loss will occur, but

there memory will come back to them in tine. Another risk of ECT is the patientís heat is

affected by the seizures and the drugs, i.e. muscle relaxants, anesthesia, and barbiturates.

Side effects such as headaches, speech loss, nausea, muscle soreness, and skin burns (

around the electrode sights). These sides effects go away within a few hours, with

acceptation of speech loss coordination which might take up to six months to

recover(Mental Illness Assessment and Treatment p.79).



Depression is a disorder that affects millions of people everyday, some of these

people have suicidal urges and need help desperately. They could take antidepressant

drugs, but these become addictive and have sides effects such as nausea, vomiting,

digestive problems, drowsiness, damage to hearing and sight, also it could lead to stronger

depression. These anti-depressant drugs are only temporary relief. These medicationsí

can also have long term damages too, but only five percent of users reported this (Jack

Mendelson, MD p.25).



Schizophrenic victims, contrary to popular belief, are highly intelligent, but tend to

see life as a collage of