Electroshock - medieval torture or modern medical procedure?

Electroshock Electroshock or electroconvulsive therapy - a procedure in which the patient passes through the brain electrical charge that causes brief seizure.It is believed that ECT changes the biochemistry of the brain, so that can quickly disappear some symptoms of mental disorders.ECT often helps when many other means are powerless.

negative association that many people associated with electric shocks, based on information about the early methods of treatment using electric shock when he used a strong electric current was applied and prolonged exposure without anesthesia, resulting in memory loss Memory loss - not only in telenovelas Loss of memory - not only in telenovelas , bone fractures and other serious side effects.Today, ECT is much safer, and it is performed under general anesthesia.While it still can cause some side effects, doctors may use a modern electric shock, extracting maximum benefit from the procedure, and reducing risks to a minimum.


Why use electroshock

With electric, you can achieve rapid and significant relief of severe symptoms of mental disorders.It can be very effective, for example, for people who have serious suicidal intent, or for those that suffer from severe delusions.Currently, ECT is used in the treatment of the following disorders:

  • severe depression Depression - a little more than a bad mood Depression - a little more than a bad mood , especially if the disease is associated with psychosis, the desire to commit suicide or refusal of food.Depression, which is not treatable by other methods;
  • state of extreme euphoria, excitement or hyperactivity, which sometimes occurs in bipolar disorder.Other signs of this condition can be an impaired ability to make decisions, impulsive or risky behavior, drug abuse, and psychosis;
  • Catatonia - a condition characterized by an extremely sedentary or rapid involuntary movements, speech disorders and other symptoms.This condition may occur in schizophrenia Schizophrenia - to blame civilization Schizophrenia - to blame civilization and some other psychiatric disorders.In some cases, catatonia is caused by physical diseases.

Increased irritability or aggression in people with dementia.Electroshock can be used if these disturbances adversely affect the quality of life, and they can not cope in other ways.

In some cases, ECT is used:

  • During pregnancy, when you can not take medication because of the high likelihood of harm to the child;
  • to treat older people with medications cause too pronounced side effects;
  • In cases where the patients themselves prefer electroshock medication;
  • If ECT previously been successfully used to treat a patient.


Side effects

In general, ECT is safe, but in some cases it can cause the following side effects:

  • Confusion.Immediately after the application of electric shocks in humans may occur confusion, which lasts from few minutes to several hours.In this state, people may not know where and why they are, and this can cause quite severe anxiety.So within a few hours after electroconvulsive therapy patients usually recommended just relax.In rare cases, the confusion persists for several days or more.Typically, this symptom is most pronounced in older people.
  • Memory disorders.Electroshock effect on memory in several ways.Some patients after electric shock can be difficult to remember what it was before the start of therapy - a condition called retrograde amnesia.Someone becomes difficult to remember the events that took place a few weeks, months or even years ago.In some cases, people begin to forget the events occurring after electroconvulsive therapy.Typically, the memory is completely restored a few months.
  • physical side effects.Within a few hours after the application of electric shocks, the patient may present symptoms such as nausea Nausea - there may be problems with the nervous system Nausea - there may be problems with the nervous system , vomiting, pain in the jaw muscle pain and spasms.These side effects can be relieved with medication.In addition, under the influence of electric shock increases heart rate and raises blood pressure, which in rare cases can lead to heart problems.


How is the procedure

Since electroconvulsive therapy is performed under general anesthesia, the morning before the procedure can not eat and drink.Immediately prior to the procedure, the doctor can perform a quick inspection to check the work of the heart and lungs.The patient is then administered anesthetic - This method is used for intravenous infusion.In addition, the muscle relaxant is used, which minimizes the risk of muscle contractions and various lesions.When anesthesia will act to the patient's head is applied electrodes into the brain through which electric current is passed, causing seizure, which usually lasts less than sixty seconds.External signs of seizures because there are practically no muscle relaxant, but the activity of the brain during the procedure varies considerably.Usually, the whole procedure takes only a few minutes - soon after the seizure ends, anesthesia gradually cease to have effect, and the patient is placed in a chamber where it will be in a few hours.

Many patients notice significant relief of symptoms after two or three sessions of electroshock therapy, but full recovery may require longer treatment.Even after the symptoms disappear totally, it is necessary to continue treatment to prevent relapse - but at this stage is typically not used electroshock therapy and antidepressants or other drugs.