Making a case for much-maligned ’shock treatment’

April 15th, 2008 - 1:07 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, April 15 (IANS) Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) - or the much-maligned shock treatment of popular cinema - is quite effective in a variety of mental disorders, according to a new study. “ECT still has a bad reputation, due in no small part to the sensationalism created by the media and entertainment industry. Take, for instance, Jack Nicholson in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’,” said Ashar Khan, a professor at Bond University.

Making a strong pitch for the “controversial” therapy, Khan dispelled horrific “images of people shaking and foaming at the mouth, or the idea of ECT as a behaviour control torture method”.

“It’s very safe. Safer than dental surgery in fact,” he said.

“The patient’s muscles are completely relaxed, they are asleep for a few minutes while ECT is administered and they don’t feel a thing.”

Past studies have also shown that victims of psychotic depression recovered faster and in more absolute ways with ECT, than those treated with drugs, the success rate being over 80 percent, which Khan described as “the most appropriate treatment” to move the patient out of critical phase.

For example, “depression and psychosis in a woman who’s just given birth is usually very severe, sometimes to the extent where she has suicidal tendencies, jeopardising the well-being of both the mother and the child.

“If the clinician wants the mother to have her quality of life back sooner and have a better impact on the child and family, then ECT ought to be considered,” Khan said.

ECT is now the only treatment for depression that requires the involvement of anaesthetist, theatre staff, a mental health clinician, specialist and nurses.

“Given to the right person, it may well save a life.”

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