Dealing with the Depths of Depression: Shock Therapy
I was engaged in a conversation with a psychologist once, and I asked her, "What do you think of electroshock therapy?" She looked at me as if I had said, "Don't you think it's fun to torture kittens?"
I find it sad that even a mental health professional would be unable to see past the popular culture depictions of mad scientists torturing people by administering electric shocks. It's actually a very effective treatment for depression. I quote the Food and Drug Administration's own Web site:
When people are unresponsive to antidepressant medications or can't take them because of their age or health problems, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or "shock therapy," can offer a lifesaving alternative. Like antidepressants, ECT is believed to affect the chemical balance of the brain's neurotransmitters.
Before ECT, the patient is given anesthesia and a muscle relaxant to prevent injury or pain. Then electrodes are placed on the person's head, and a small amount of electricity is applied. This procedure is usually done three times a week until the patient improves. Some patients may experience a temporary loss of short-term memory.
I plan to write more about this in the future, but in the meantime, consider this a public service announcement. Electroshock therapy can be a wonderful thing. (This is usually the point where you'd read something along the lines of, "Of course, electroshock therapy isn't right for everyone..." as if that's not incredibly obvious. Chemotherapy isn't for everyone, either. That doesn't mean we should ban it, as many insist with electroshock therapy.)
If you have personal experience with electroshock therapy, know someone who has, or have just read anything interesting about it, I'd love to hear from you, either in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll assume any e-mails I get are strictly confidential unless you specifically tell me otherwise.
Tags: depression electroshock ECT shock therapy