Electroshock Therapy

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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 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,

where 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. 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 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,

where 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.

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