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After researching electroconvulsive therapy
(ECT), I have decided that if a close family member or even myself were
severely depressed I would not support the use of ECT. Electroconvulsive
therapy consists of an electrical shock, which is used to produce a seizure.
Many people experience seizures due to some other type of illness or illnesses,
and in these cases there is medicine taken in order to prevent these occurrences.
In deciding my opinion on the topic of ECT I asked myself would I want
to put myself or a loved one through what others are trying to avoid; a
seizure. Although ECT has proven to be effective in some cases
of depression, it has many risk factors involved and it does not ensure
a lifetime with out the reoccurrence of depression.
Before ECT is administered the doctor
will first do a physical examination on the patient to make sure they are
physically able to have the treatment. If the physical examination
shows the patient is physically able the next step will be to meet with
an anesthesiologist. The purpose of this visit is for the anesthesiologist
to examine the heart and lungs to ensure the anesthesia given through an
IV will be safe for the patient.
Another step taken will be many blood tests
and a test showing the rhythm of the patientís heart. All these procedures
must be done before the first treatment of ECT is ever given. These
steps are just the beginning of precautions for the treatments no one,
not even the doctor, knows how the electricity passed through the brain
will actually effect the patient.
ECT treatment is generally administered
in the morning, before breakfast. Prior to the actual treatment, the patient
is given general anesthesia and a muscle relaxant. Electrodes are
then attached to the patient\'s scalp and an electric current is applied
which causes a brief convulsion. Minutes later, the patient awakens
confused and without memory of events surrounding the treatment. This treatment
is usually repeated three times a week for two to four weeks. The number
of treatments varies from six to twelve. It is often recommended that the
patient maintain a limited intake of medication, after the ECT treatments,
to reduce the chance of relapse.
Electroconvulsive therapy is a very
Much of the controversy surrounding this
topic revolves around its effectiveness vs. the side effects, and the recent
increase in ECT as a quick and easy solution, instead of long-term psychotherapy
or hospitalization. Because of the concern about permanent memory loss
and confusion related to ECT treatment, some researchers recommend that
the treatment only be used as a last resort. It is also unclear whether
or not ECT is effective. However, other studies indicate that the
relapse rate is high, even for patients who take medication after ECT.
Some researchers insist that no study proves that ECT is effective for
more than four weeks.
The side effects were also what strongly
aided in helping me make my decision. The side effects are so much
more than just memory loss. Common side effects include temporary
short-term memory loss, nausea, muscle aches and headaches. The blood
pressure and the heart rhythm may change. Some permanent side effects
include circulatory insufficiency, tooth damage, vertebral fractures and
In understanding what electroconvulsive
therapy is I can conclude this treatment is not something I would be interested
Although this is only my individual
decision itís absolutely the patientís decision after considering the advantages
and disadvantages. ECT may have its positive effects on depression
but it has too many negative effects on the body itself.
Electroconvulsive Therapy. (1999).
[Online] National Institute of Mental
[2000, Jan. 20].
Harstock, Marcia. (2000).
Electroconvulsive Therapy for Severe Depression.
American Family Physician. [Online]
[2000, Jan. 20].
Rathus, Spencer A. (1999).
Psychology: In the New Millennium.
Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College
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