From Dr. Hickey’s blog, Behaviorism and Mental Health
ECT, or shock treatment as it’s sometimes called, is a controversial topic. Adherents describe it as safe and effective; opponents condemn its use as damaging and ineffective. But it is still widely used in the US and in other countries.
The treatment consists essentially of passing sufficient electricity across the brain to cause a seizure. Clients are anesthetized during the process. It is used primarily in cases of severe depression. Typically, shock treatment is administered twice a week until the depression remits or until no further improvement is noted in two successive sessions. Most courses of treatment involve about eight sessions.
After shock treatment, some clients do appear to be less depressed, but this phenomenon has been interpreted differently by ECT’s proponents and opponents. Proponents claim that the ECT treatments have clearly alleviated the depression. Opponents claim that the apparent improvement is an example of post-concussion euphoria, and that the effects are short-lived.
The subject is vast, and an enormous volume of material has been written on the topic. I Googled “electroconvulsive therapy” and got just over one million hits. There is a growing body of writing from survivors who state that they were harmed by the process, but one can also find occasional reports from people who say that ECT was helpful to them. In former years the psychiatric community claimed that there were no significant adverse effects on memory associated with ECT, but today there appears to be a general acceptance that memory loss can and does occur…
Read complete article in BehaviorismandMentalHealth.com.