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Electroshock Therapy

Electroshock Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), formerly known as electroshock, is a psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anesthetized patients for therapeutic effect. Its mode of action is unknown. Today, ECT is most often recommended for use as a treatment for severe depression that has not responded to other treatment.

 

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James Kopf

James Kopf

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The treatment can be forced upon the patient if doctors believe it's the only way to make them well. There are no good numbers on how many people have received forced ECT in the U.S. It's up to states to track these cases, and most don't.

Article: Man Fights Order To Under...
Source: NPR

The use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to provoke a generalized epileptic seizure was first described in 1938 and was performed without anesthesia for almost 30 [years]. Now the number of ECT procedures performed each year under general anesthesia in the United States exceeds the number of coronary revascularization, appendectomy, and herniorrhaphy procedures.

Article: Anesthesia for Electrocon...
Source: Anesthesia & Analgesia

When an electrical current is applied to the brain via transcutaneous electrodes, the resultant electroencephalographic (EEG) spike and wave activity is accompanied by a generalized motor seizure and an acute cardiovascular response, which results in amarked increase in cerebral blood flow and intracranial pressure.

Article:
Source: Anesthesia & Analgesia

Several clinics have sprung up, offering parents the chance to "cure" their children of the uncontrollable urge to blog or play online games... A psychiatric hospital in Linyi, Shandong, charged parents £500 a month to apply "xingnao", or "brain-waking", electric shocks to their children. Some children suffered painful burns, but no parents had complained, according to the Chinese press.

Article: China Bans Electric Shock...
Source: Telegraph

Electric shock therapy is used in Britain, but only as a treatment of last resort when all other conventional cures have failed.

Article: China Bans Electric Shock...
Source: Telegraph

The fact is that the Food and Drug Administration held a public hearing... to decide whether it should investigate this treatment. The F.D.A. had become involved in the controversy over ECT when it acquired responsibility for the safety and effectiveness of medical devices under the Medical Device Amendments of 1976 to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. This new law automatically brought ECT devices (also known as shock machines) and the treatment they produce under scrutiny.

Article: 'Safe, Effective and Wide...
Source: The New York Times

The 1962 work, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey, shows the abuse of electroshock therapy to control patients in a mental institution. The 1975 film based on this work undoubtedly left the public with an unfavorable view of electroshock therapy. Despite the many critics of this treatment, many medical institutions insist that this therapy is effective and safe. Electroshock therapy, or Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), is a "medical procedure in which a brief electrical stimulus is used to induce a cerebral seizure under controlled conditions."

Article: Electroconvulsive Therapy
Source: Bryn Mawr College

It is understandable how the public can hold such negative views of this treatment. In the early development of ECT, the abuses were terrifying, but technological advances have transformed this once dangerous practice into a treatment that, although not without risk, may improve some people's quality of life and in some case, even save lives. The risks involved with electroconvulsive therapy, such as memory loss, may be more frightening than risks associated with pharmacological treatments; however, when quick improvement must be made, or when other alternatives have failed, electroconvulsive therapy should be considered.

Article: Electroconvulsive Therapy
Source: Bryn Mawr College

[Some] severe depression [is] immune to medication and even electroshock therapy. But a silver dollar-size pulse generator implanted in [the] chest three years ago seems to have helped. Electrodes from the device wind around the vagus nerve in [the] neck and zap it with two milliamps of current for 30 seconds every five minutes. Unlike traditional electroshock therapy, this approach, called vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS, is targeted at just one part of the brain and uses a very low voltage. The VNS implant, made by Cyberonics in Houston, is already approved for the treatment of epilepsy and could receive FDA clearance for depression this summer.

Article: Brain Pacemaker
Source: Popular Science

During the last decade, the “typical” ECT patient has changed from low-income males under 40, to middle-income women over 65.  This coincides with changing demographics. 

Article: Electroconvulsive Therapy...
Source: Mental Health America
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