Electroshock still used to treat mental illness

Contrary to what many people think, electroshock is not a thing of the past. They are still used to treat mental illness, such as depression. The treatment is much better supervised than it was in the 20th century, but still today, it is synonymous with taboo.

The treatment is now called electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Approximately 750 Quebecers received it between 2012 and 2013. “The goal is to produce a convulsion in the brain with a minimal electrical discharge. The patient is asleep, so he feels no pain, “says the director of the Center of Excellence in Electroconvulsive Therapy of Quebec, Simon Patry.

ECT is used in well-targeted cases, especially when the medication is not working, which occurs in 30% to 40% of patients with major depression. Electroconvulsive therapy is usually successful in helping between 50% and 60% of drug-refractory patients.

ECT is often accompanied by side effects: headache, nausea, body aches, temporary or permanent memory loss.

The taboo of electroshocks

André Sarrazin was one of those who consented to receiving electroshock because the drugs he was taking to treat his depression were not working. He hesitated a lot and inquired about the treatment before agreeing: “It scared me. I thought I was not crazy, that I was still able to think. ”

In his case, the treatment was effective. He estimates that electroshock cured him 80%.

A negative image always surrounds ECT, so many patients decide not to talk about it.

Nancy Miller

Nancy Miller (MD)  has over 20 years experience as a educator and health practitioner. She has a B.S. from Lake Head University In Thunder Bay, and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Guelph . Dr. Miller has worked as a special medical consultant for a major insurance provider before becoming a freelance health author and public speaker. There are several ways to contact Dr. Miller here.

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