Should We STILL Be Using Electric Shock Therapy to Treat Depression? It's Been Controversial since It Was First Used in the 1930s. So, as Psychologists Call for a Ban

Daily Mail (London), February 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Should We STILL Be Using Electric Shock Therapy to Treat Depression? It's Been Controversial since It Was First Used in the 1930s. So, as Psychologists Call for a Ban


Byline: PAT HAGAN

WHEN Gabrielle Blackman-Sheppard told family and friends she was to have electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) for her severe depression, they were horrified.

'The image they all had was of someone being forcibly strapped into an electric chair,' recalls Gabrielle, who has suffered from bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, for nearly 30 years.

'Many people still see it as a form of torture. But I was desperate. I was more terrified of not having it because, at the time, I was spending every second of my life fighting the urge to kill myself.'

Doctors had tried numerous drug combinations to try to get her condition under control, but with no success. As she became increasingly suicidal, they suggested ECT as a last resort.

'After the first ECT treatment in 2008, I immediately felt better,' says the 60-yearold from Wolverhampton. 'It was like my brain had been put back on its rails.

'I had greater clarity of thought, my speech, which had become slurred, was a lot clearer, and I was able to read again. Before, I was so ill I couldn't concentrate on the words on the page.' Over the next year she was to undergo 23 treatments in all, with similar benefits.

It might surprise many people to learn that ECT is still being used to treat depression.

NICE, the Government's health watchdog, has judged it suitable for use in severe depression, and every year around 12,000 Britons undergo the treatment.

Among those ECT has helped is former Coronation Street actress Beverley Callard, who played barmaid Liz McDonald. Last year, she spoke of how ECT helped put her on the road to recovery after a severe bout of depression.

ECT first emerged in the 1930s after doctors noticed patients with epilepsy often felt happier after a fit. It was thought that the electrical 'storm' in the brain that caused seizures also boosted mood.

DURING treatment, the patient is put under anaesthetic and given a muscle relaxant to reduce the risk of serious injury when they go into spasm.

Electrodes are placed either side of the forehead and a current is passed between them. This triggers a seizure lasting between 20 and 50 seconds and a single course of treatment can involve up to 12 sessions, spread out over several weeks.

Eighty years on, there is still no conclusive rationale for why zapping the brain with bursts of electricity should work. Some studies suggest it may stimulate the release of 'feel-good' chemicals in the brain, or promote the growth of new blood vessels.

It could also be that it has a placebo effect -- the benefits being due to the extra attention patients get when they receive treatment. Typically, ECT sessions can involve two or three nurses, a psychiatrist and an anaesthetist.

Whatever the explanation, there remains 'a lot of stigma and myth attached to the treatment', says Dr Susan Benbow, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

And now, following a major review of the evidence that suggested it has little or no benefit for most people, there are calls for the treatment to be banned. Furthermore, the review found that ECT damages the brain's ability to function properly, including wiping large chunks of patients' memories.

The review, by psychologists Professor Richard Bentall, from Bangor University in Wales, and Professor John Read, of Auckland University in New Zealand, pooled the results of dozens of earlier studies into ECT for depression and schizophrenia. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Should We STILL Be Using Electric Shock Therapy to Treat Depression? It's Been Controversial since It Was First Used in the 1930s. So, as Psychologists Call for a Ban
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.