When medications fail to relieve the symptoms of clinical depression, there are other options to try, one of which is through electroshock. Despite the lack of recognition of electroshock treatment, this therapy is still used by Canadian psychiatrists to treat major depression. However, critics argue that the procedure used to treat drug-resistant depression in the elderly is painful and can lead to brain damage.
The controversial treatment has been used clinically for more than 70 years and includes anesthesia and electronically induced seizures in patients. This is the first time researchers have discovered how the treatment works. Based on actual findings and medical research, this therapy is by far one of the safest and most effective treatments for depression. It is also very effective for patients suffering from mania or other psychiatric disorders.
Although ECT has been in use since the 1940s and 1950s, it is still poorly understood by the public. ECT today is not the same as it was fifty years ago. With minimal harm to the patient, the way ECT works has a lot to do with how it is currently administered. Many of the risks and side effects of the procedure are related to misuse of the equipment, incorrect administration, or inadequately trained staff.
The treatments described above have shown immediate results in most patients. However, some experienced side effects that could be quite different from the large number of intolerable side effects of medications and results were seen after more than a month. The documented side effects of the procedure were memory loss, headaches, nausea, confusion, muscle aches and pain experienced by the patient.
In addition, some patients reported memory loss for events that occurred the day, weeks and months before ECT. Most of these memories recover, but some patients report longer-lasting problems recalling some of these memories and some claim they have “permanent brain damage.”
Two advances have improved the procedures of electroconvulsive therapy. The first is unilateral non-dominant electroshock, which uses electrodes only on the right side of the patient’s head (rather than bilaterally), protecting the left side of the brain, the site of verbal and auditory memories. Another advance was the introduction of brief pulsed stimulation – a rapid electric shock rather than a constant current – making it less likely that the patient would later develop severe memory problems. In addition, several patients reported improvements in their memory as a result of ECT’s ability to eliminate the amnesia sometimes associated with severe depression.