Psycho-Babble Medication | about biological treatments | Framed
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Re: Toby and Others...curious about ect

Posted by Elizabeth on January 18, 1999, at 8:50:51

In reply to Re: Toby and Others...curious about ect, posted by Toby on January 13, 1999, at 12:00:16

> If I ever get depressed I will go straight to ECT. It is safe, quick, and highly effective for depression. The downside is expense since it has to be done in a hospital and anesthesia is required. However, the expense comes all at once rather than spread out over months, as with medications and repeat doctor visits and lost wages from work and loss of the joy of life. People still fear it because of movies and stories of relatives who had it many years ago that indicate it is painful and damages the brain. Indeed, the way it was administered in the 1940's and '50's was generally not very helpful. The amount of electricity was too high and it was given to control behaviors of severely mentally ill or retarded individuals, so it was given too often and for the wrong reasons. Now, only enough electricity is applied to create a seizure in the brain, the body is paralyzed so that bones aren't broken and generally not even any muscle aches are produced, and general anesthesia is given so that the patient is asleep during the whole thing. The memory loss that people get is usually just around the ECT itself, and the cause is as much due to the anesthesia as to the ECT. Depending on how many treatments are needed, usually 6-12 total, short term memory loss can occur for a few weeks or a month, but does return to baseline quickly (and when you think about how your memory is shot during an episode of depression anyway, it doesn't seem that much of a side effect). The few people who go on Geraldo with their notebooks and report having no memory of their entire lives and can't remember anything new seem to be fakers. They can certainly remember enough to get on Geraldo on time and remember that ECT caused them to, supposedly, lose their memory. Memory just doesn't work that way. Anyway, my point is that ECT probably should be used more than it is, and more as a first line treatment, and it is not something to be feared.

Toby...a problem with ECT is unless you want to have maintenance treatments (pretty expensive, time-consuming (because of the general anaesthesia), a general PITA), maintenance meds might be required. However, your idea does have some merit - I think this might be a more common practice if people weren't so phobic about ECT (due to bad publicity and past problems more than anything else).

I will note that ECT hasn't been shown to work so well in most types of depression. For example, atypical depression (which is pretty common despite the name) seems to have a pretty low rate of response to ECT. It's best suited for typical melancholic depressions and psychotic depression.




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