Call for ban on shock therapy
December 19, 2010
ELECTRIC shock therapy may cause permanent brain damage and long-term memory loss and should no longer be used as a treatment for mental illness, researchers say.
Psychologists who analysed more than 100 studies of the controversial treatment say the risks of shock therapy outweigh the benefits and it should be consigned to the ”historical rubbish bin” alongside lobotomies.
Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, induces seizures by delivering an electric current to the brain. It has divided the medical profession, with some arguing the practice is archaic and others maintaining it is highly effective and can be life-saving for severely depressed patients.
Earlier this year, The Sunday Age revealed there had been a 10 per cent increase from 2008 to 2009 in the number of Victorians receiving ECT. A third underwent the procedure against their will.
The review’s lead author, John Read, of the University of Auckland, looked at placebo-controlled studies and concluded shock therapy had minimal effects for people with depression and schizophrenia.
”The dwindling numbers of psychiatrists who still use this procedure, which sends 150 volts through brain cells equipped to deal with tiny fractions of one volt, are no doubt well-intentioned, but the research just does not support them,” Associate Professor Read said.
The review, published this week in the journal Epidemiologia e Psichiatra Sociale, found almost all ECT patients suffered some amnesia. ”For a proportion of those people some of that memory loss is recouped over time,” Associate Professor Read said. ”However, we are now seeing that for a significant proportion of people that brain dysfunction is permanent. ECT can, for a minority of people, produce some very short-term benefits; it can lift people’s mood quite quickly.
”The problem is that there’s no evidence at all that that benefit lasts beyond the end of the period that you’re giving the electric shock treatment for.”
The article continues here with the usual ‘other side of the story’ composed of justifications and excuses and downright lies from the vested interests of the bio-psychiatrists…