Electric shock treatment for depression is scientifically known as Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Many people are still not familiar with the concept of electroconvulsive therapy.
Some people may consider it a rather barbaric method for treatment of some psychological diseases. Nevertheless, ECT is one of the methods, which is used even today to cure psychiatric disorders including depression.
The method of electric shock treatment for depression was introduced in the year 1930. From this point, the popularity of this method kept on rising. It is estimated that each year about 1 million patients receive ECT.
The previous name of ECT is electroshock. Generally, the idea of the method is to induce seizures. Patients experience seizures under general anesthesia. The seizures are induced through electrical current.
There are some important things to be noted. The electrical current enters the body through electrodes. The right placement of the electrodes is crucial for the success of the treatment. They are placed on the scalp of the patient.
The electrodes could be placed on the temporal lobes of the brain. They could be placed on both temporal lobes (bilateral ECT) or on only one temporal lobe (unilateral ECT). In the second case, it is preferred the non-dominant hemisphere- in the right handed people- the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere for the left-handed people.
When the electrodes are placed, electrical current passes through them. This arouses the cells in the brain causing massive seizures. These seizures last at least 15 seconds and up to 30-50 seconds. That’s why it is important the patient to be under general anesthesia.
When the seizures stop, the Electroencephalogram shows flat line. Most of the doctors agree on the fact that the electrical potentiality is exhausted and cells need to recharge. That’s why EEG shows flat line.
The mechanism how Electroconvulsive therapy affects brain is still vague. Studies have shown that the serotonin receptors’ activity is increased after a therapy session with electrical current. Also, the activity of the noradrenaline and dopamine receptors is decreased.
Many of the psychiatric disorders are connected with biochemical activity in the brain. In some cases, the dopamine activity is increased causing psychiatric manifestation of the disorder. That’s why it is reasonable to treat patients with ECT, if they experience some kind of biochemical disruption.
Except the electrodes placement, the other two things, which are important, are: the frequency of the ECT and the waveform of the electrical stimulus.
Usually, patients undergo 6 to 12 therapy sessions during the course of treatment. The maximum number of sessions per week is three.
Usually, electroconvulsive therapy is used to treat patients with severe depression or bipolar disorder. It is important to note, that ECT is used only when the patients are not influenced by the ordinary medications for these disorders. Therefore it proves useful in resistant cases.
Another reason why patients should undergo electric shock treatment for depression or ECT is the fact that some patients do not tolerate very well the medications for these disorders. The only hope for them is the ECT.You may also want to learn about "Side Effects Of ECT and How To Overcome Them".