Shock therapy

ECT aka Shock treatment – Barbaric or Helpful?

Scrolling through Facebook last night I came across a blog post by Dr. Caroline Leaf, specializing in Neuropsychology, who in her blog wrote about ECT treatments for mental illnesses. Now, Dr. Leaf’s blog post was not too long to get the full story, but in essence I felt there is rather strong disagreement with the general use of Electro-Convulsive Therapy.

Please know, that I do love and appreciate the work on the neuroplasticity of the human brain of Dr. Caroline Leaf and all of her wisdom.

As an advocate for a broader mental health awareness, and also someone, who experienced ECT several times on my own brain (the latest one in Jan 2017), here is my viewpoint on this controversial subject:

My experience with Electro Shocks

Despite the fact, that the ‘ECT treatment’ I received was always administered without my, or my family’s consent while I was unwell, now I would say it had its place. Upon reflection on it, if it was not for the ECT’s (given to me during several different hospital admissions and only after all other efforts using medication failed) there was a high chance that I may have not recovered so quickly from what was very debilitating and hard to manage condition.

The shock treatment has had for a very long time, a very bad reputation. To me that is mainly due to its portraying in the media for its past administration without the use of anesthetics and relaxants. That could be the very scary bit, that nobody would like to experience. However, nowadays it is given with full body anesthetic and relaxants injected into the bloodstream of the ‘poor’ patient. One goes to sleep long before the electrodes touch the head and wakes up afterwards without any pain. Just like after other successful operation.

So the barbaric associations that this ‘treatment’ has in the society is a little bit unfair. This is also due to the “One fly over the Cuckoo’s nest” movie, that had its place in showing the bad aspects of mental institutions back in the day. Nowadays, there are still surely not a place one likes to be held in, however, it all comes down to having good doctors and nurses, who make the big difference in any hospital environment.

Side Effects of ECT

While ‘my’ first ECT had a significant effect on memory loss and some other cognitive functioning, which affected my work abilities and my confidence, I am now able to express gratitude and accept this as one of the more effective methods of the mental health industry. Overall I had several instances when it was the last resort used by the treatment team and it was actually the one thing that really worked.

So unless you had ECT on yourself, please do not spread more fear and misunderstanding about it. There is greater need for more clarity and awareness though. Thank you for reading my thoughts on this. And if you or someone you know experienced ECT personally, I would love to read your thoughts in the comment box below.

Joy and clarity

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