article briefly describes electroconvulsive therapy (ECT),
not intended as an authoritative guide. The
author is not a
and is certainly not your doctor, the person to whom you
first turn. The
description is based on worthwhile internet
for which links are provided.
has a frightening image.
Graphically depicted in movies such as
Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest , ECT is often portrayed as a
treatment from the stone age of psychiatry.
image is inaccurate and insidious.
ECT is still used to treat
despite the improvement of drug therapies because it often
for certain individuals where alternatives do not.
is particularly useful for the severly depressed and
who can not tolerate drug treatment because of illness or
It can literally save lives among the suicidal.
its popular image, the very term electroconvulsive therapy
"Electro" refers to the electrical
current used to
a seizure. However,
the electricity is not responsible for
therpay's effectiveness, if anything it may cause or
most common side effect of ECT, amnesia.
physical convulsions of the body during a seizures, a
of the skeletal muscles, which again have no relevance to
relationship between seizures and depression was first
the early 1900's, when it was noted that patients with
and depression experienced a remission of the depression
a seizure. The
early efforts at artificially inducing seizures
treat other patients were crude and led to a host of
related to uncontrolled convulsions which could break
poor understanding of how the therapy worked.
Although ECT is
far more refined, these images continue to haunt it and
those who have had it.
modern ECT, a muscle-relaxing drug is first administered
the physical convulsions to safe levels.
The patient is also
and so is not conscious.
The seizure is induced by a
electrical current delivered through electrodes taped to
is a significant procedure with risks and potential side
for ECT in bipolar patients, the particular risk is that
can ignite a manic episode.
This can be effectively
with fast-acting anti-mania drugs such as the old standby,
with any medical treatment, the risks must be balanced
In doing so, it is important to remember that ECT
treatment for patients in great need or who haven't
and who may be suicidal.
yes, I forgot a cite you may want to look at for ...