Electroconvulsive therapy, or also commonly referred to as ECT therapy is a health procedure in which a person who is doing it – will be electrocuted to the brain in order to trigger a seizure reaction briefly. The ECT can later cause a change in brain chemistry that will be beneficial because it can reverse the symptoms of certain mental illnesses that are being experienced.
You should know that the ECT is a last resort if other treatment methods have not produced a positive impact on the patient’s health. In other words, a patient is only allowed to use ECT therapy only when there is no other treatment to be able to help overcome the problem or disease that is being experienced at that time.
In this type of therapy, there are three essential variables that govern its application:
- Location or placement of electrodes.
- Duration of impulses.
- Electro-physical properties of stimuli.
Electroconvulsive Therapy history
ECT has a varied past. When ECT was first introduced in the 1930s, it was known as “electric shock therapy”. In early use, patients regularly suffer fractures and related injuries during therapy.
Muscle relaxants are not available to control severe seizures caused by ECT. Therefore, it is considered one of the most controversial treatments in modern psychiatry.
In modern ECT, electric current is regulated more carefully, in a more controlled way. In addition, patients are also given muscle relaxing and sedatives to reduce the risk of injury.
Currently, the American Medical Association and the National Institutes of Mental Health support the use of ECT.
Electroconvulsive Therapy for paranoid schizophrenia
Paranoid schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that can affect a person’s thoughts, relationships, emotions, and decision-making. This chronic mental illness causes the sufferer to be unable to tell which is delusional and which is reality. Schizophrenia can also make it difficult for people to remember or understand the problem. Therefore, a person who has this disease is often called insane.
Paranoid schizophrenia has so far not been found a cure, but correct treatment early on can be done to prevent the disease from developing rapidly. In addition, a person with schizophrenia also often shows bad behavior and difficulty controlling his behavior. People with mental disorders have difficulty controlling their emotions and desires.
Electroconvulsive Therapy for depression
Long before antidepressant drugs were widely known, severe depression sufferers were treated with electric shock. Although effective, this therapy can cause memory loss so the researchers developed it again to reduce side effects.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) has been known since 90 years ago and appeared in the 1975 film One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. The goal is to create seizures by draining electrical currents in the patient’s brain.
In those days, depressed people who also suffered from epilepsy became better after undergoing ECT. Psychiatrists say that in a third of people with severe depression who are not given the drug, ECT is the most effective solution.
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Electroconvulsive therapy procedure
Before starting electro-shock therapy, patients must undergo a thorough evaluation that includes the patient’s medical history, physical examination, psychiatric evaluation and physical test. There are blood tests, electrocardiograms and reports from anesthesiologists.
The purpose of this test is to ensure that electroconvulsive therapy is safe for the patient, thus ensuring minimal risk or possible side effects.
After the parameters or variables mentioned at the beginning of the article are set, the treatment session is performed. First of all, the doctor proceeds to administer general anesthesia and place an intravenous pathway that will provide the patient with fluids and anticonvulsant drugs.
Then, a bearing with electrodes is placed on one or two sides of the head, according to whether the current should be administered unilaterally or bilaterally. Sessions usually last between 5 and 10 minutes regardless of the time people need to prepare, as well as to recover from treatment.
When it is finished, the patient is transferred to a recovery room where the patient is observed and monitored for any adverse reactions. It is common to experience confusion or disorientation when waking up.
Finally, hospitalization of the patient is not necessary, but in most cases it can be done in outpatients.
- Image: BruceBlaus, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
- Video: WVU Medicine.