This a very different treatment to the one you may have heard of from the 1940's and 1950's when it was called electric shock therapy and was administered in almost cruel conditions with severe side effects.
This type of therapy is used to "reboot" the brain, much like you would reboot a computer when it is having issues. Why use ECT? "Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can provide rapid, significant improvements in severe symptoms of a number of mental health conditions. It may be an effective
treatment in someone who is suicidal, for instance, or end an episode of severe mania. ECT is used to treat:
- Severe depression, particularly when accompanied by detachment from reality (psychosis), a desire to commit suicide or refusal to eat.
- Treatment-resistant depression, a severe depression that doesn't improve with medications or other treatments.
- Severe mania, a state of intense euphoria, agitation or hyperactivity that occurs as part of bipolar disorder. Other signs of mania include impaired decision making, impulsive or risky behavior, substance abuse, and psychosis.
- Catatonia, characterized by lack of movement, fast or strange movements, lack of speech, and other symptoms. It's associated with schizophrenia and some other psychiatric disorders. In some cases, catatonia is caused by a medical illness.
- Agitation and aggression in people with dementia, which can be difficult to treat and negatively affect quality of life."
My son suffers from the severe depression that is accompanied by psychosis, it is also treatment-resistant. ECT has been suggested for his type of illness. He was only fifteen when it was first recommended and I thought he was too young. Later when he was seventeen it was recommended again, if he did not improve on the drugs he was trying at that time, but somehow we never tried this type of procedure. I wonder if we had if it would have made a difference. There are, of course, side effects as with any type of medical procedure, but maybe the benefits would have outweighed the side effects. It is something I keep in the back of my mind with the idea that if he is struggling with these types of severe difficulties in the future he should try the ECT. When you don't think anything will help, what have you got to lose?