Shock therapy, also known as electroconvulsive therapy, is when electrical currents are purposely sent through the brain in order to induce a slight seizure. The induction of seizure activity results in a reversal in brain activity from negative to positive, often bringing almost immediate and significant relief to those suffering from certain mental and neurological conditions. Many people may express concern over the safety of electroconvulsive therapy due to barbaric practices years ago where high amounts of electricity was performed without the use of anesthesia. Patients undergoing this harsh therapy have suffered from broken bones, memory loss and many other major side effects. Doctors now ensure that electroconvulsive therapy is performed in a safe manner, which increases its chances of success and also decreases the chances of severe side effects.
Shock therapy works wonders for alleviating the symptoms of numerous conditions, sometimes resulting in almost immediate relief. The conditions in which doctors sometimes suggest electroconvulsive therapy for include severe depression, certain types of schizophrenia, especially with psychosis and when a patient is extremely dangerous, catatonia, especially when associated with schizophrenia, and depression that fails to respond to other less invasive treatments such as medication and psychotherapy. Shock therapy is sometimes used as a final result in many conditions such as tourette syndrome, extreme epilepsy, as well as treatment-resistant obsessive compulsive disorder. Electroconvulsive therapy is sometimes the preferred treatment for pregnant women and senior citizens who may not be able to tolerate other treatments, and also other cases as well.
Even though electroconvulsive therapy is currently a great deal safer than it was in the past, there are still certain risks to be aware of. Some patients report memory loss, which although it can be disturbing for some patients, usually returns within a few weeks. There is also the risk of confusion, especially in older patients. Some people who have undergone electroconvulsive therapy suffer from vomiting, nausea, headaches, muscle spasms, and jaw pain. Patient’s with heart conditions may want to choose a different treatment since shock therapy can sometimes lead to heart trouble, especially in those with pre-existing heart conditions. This is why it’s imperative for doctors to perform a complete medical workup, including an echocardiogram, in order to be sure that your body can withstand shock therapy.
A person undergoing electroconvulsive therapy should expect for the procedure to take last about 15 minutes, give or take a few minutes. The patient will be placed under general anesthesia and a seizure which typically lasts 30-60 seconds will be induced while the patient is unconscious. The patient will be placed in a recovery room following the procedure, and can expect to be confused for as long as a few hours afterwards. Shock therapy is usually performed in a series of separate sessions, and the amount will depend on the patient’s condition as well as its severity. Some patients respond more rapidly than others, which would result in fewer treatments. Most patients usually respond to shock therapy after 3 or 4 treatments, and maintenance treatment may need to be performed on a regular basis, unless the doctor and patient agree on medication and psychotherapy as a form of long-term maintenance.
Mayo Clinic ECT Page – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/electroconvulsive-therapy/MY00129