Shock Therapy: New Twist on an Old Treatment for Depression | Medical News and Health Information
Shock Therapy: New Twist on an Old Treatment for Depression -- Research SummaryBACKGROUND: Depression is a medical illness that involves the brain. It affects more than 20 million Americans. Symptoms can include sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, changes in weight, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, a loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of death or suicide. Researchers believe there are a variety of causes including genetic, environmental, psychological and biochemical factors. Depression usually starts between ages 15 and 30 and is much more common in women. Typical treatments include antidepressant drugs and talk therapy.
(SOURCE: National Institute of Mental Health)
WHAT IS ECT? Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used to treat severe depression. It involves using electricity to induce a seizure. Doctors believe the seizure in the brain produces a host of chemical and physiologic changes in the brain. When ECT was first introduced in the 1940s, it was performed without anesthesia. The treatments were often portrayed as painful and punitive in movie scenes. “The treatments don’t look anything like they used to look,” Richard Weiner, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Medical Director of the Duke ECT Program, told Ivanhoe. “The type of electricity that we use now is very different from the type of electricity that used to be used. What we use now is actually modeled after the type of electricity that the brain itself uses.” Today, patients also receive muscle relaxers prior to having the procedure, and they are put under general anesthesia. About 100,000 people undergo ECT treatments each year. It is recommended for those with severe depression who fail to respond to other therapies such as medications and psychotherapy.
(SOURCE: www.doctoroz.com, Ivanhoe interview with Dr. Weiner)
HOW SUCCESSFUL IS IT? Several studies show ECT therapy works between 80 percent and 90 percent of the time for those who are good candidates. “The results can be extraordinarily dramatic,” Dr. Weiner said.
RISKS: There are risks and side effects of ECT therapy. These include headache, muscle pain, nausea, and memory problems. Many patients who undergo ECT treatments continue taking their antidepressant medications, which also pose side effects. “Any treatment has risks and not treating also has risks,” Dr. Weiner said. While there has been some concern about ECT causing permanent changes in the brain, Dr. Weiner says: “What’s been found is ECT doesn’t cause any pathological, structural changes in the brain. Interestingly, what has been found is depression itself causes pathological changes in certain parts of the brain, so in a sense, ECT may end up being better for their [patients’] brain rather than bad for their brain.” (SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with Dr. Weiner) MORE ► Shock Therapy: New Twist on an Old Treatment for Depression -- Research Summary | Medical News and Health Information
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Shock Therapy: New Twist on an Old Treatment for Depression -- In Depth Doctor's Interview | Medical News and Health Information