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, cant 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 isky 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 oticeable is the patients toes curling (Mental Illness Assessment and Treatment p. 8). 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 patients 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 medications 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 disassociated and often frightening impressions.
These people also have trouble coping with the outside world, and are usually locked away in hospitals for life on strong prescription of medications. These do not solve their problems, whereas electroshock therapy can solve their problems for life with side-effects lasting only six months at the most amount of time. ECT can solve both these clinical conditions permanently, but there are still those in society that look down upon ECT because of past rumors, and their lack of up-to-date knowledge of this subject. Doctors seem to use ECT as a last resort after contaminating patients bodies with drugs.
Electroshock therapy is not only a good idea, but in some cases a necessity. For example if there is a person going through manic-depression this can be a very helpful cure. Especially if this person may have suicidal tendencies. It also helps many individuals who can not tolerate the standard medications prescribed for mental illness. (Dabiri USA Today). A lot of medications used for depression and schizophrenia such as prozac have terrible side effects and are being considered to be taken off the pharmaceutical market.
Prozac was first used in the 1930s in Italy and is still used, while temporary drugs(prozac, ritalin) will eventually reach a downfall. The trend of depression has risen greatly in the 90s and some people really do need such treatments as ECT to help. Electroshock therapy is not a popular practice in the mental illness treatment field. Many people still believe that it is barbaric and does not deserve a place in todays society. People still have dark and gory images of ECT from such books as One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, here ECT was graphically portrayed as a grisly machine that enhanced dementia.
This is not necessarily true though, ECT is more safe and effective than alternative drugs used to treat these symptoms can become addictive and sometimes lethal, oh yes lethal! Maybe some day people will see electroshock therapy not as a danger, but as a productive way to rid mental illness. ECT may seem risky and dangerous at the time, but with science and technological advances improving daily, this could be a miracle cure for widespread mental illness that affects many different people all over the world.