Electroshock Therapy

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Electroshock Therapy

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
risky 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
noticeable is the patients toes curling (Mental Illness Assessment and Treatment p.78).
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