Shocks Essay

2826 words - 11 pages

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, can’t 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...

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