April 27th, 2011
08:45 AM ET

Is electroconvulsive therapy safe?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Question asked by Ky-Nisha of Florida:

Is electroconvulsive therapy safe to use on children?

Expert answer:

Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is a funny business. By far the most effective treatment in psychiatry, it is also by far the most reviled.

At least as safe as many of our medications, its use is nonetheless severely circumscribed in many states. It's an intervention with generally mild side effects, but many people emotionally equate it with lobotomy, aided in this regard by searing images from the classic film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

On the other hand, those of us who have seen countless patients saved from suicide or natural death from their severe psychiatric conditions have a profound admiration for the procedure.

It appears that children and adolescents are no less likely to benefit from ECT than are adults, and so the quick answer to your question is: Yes, ECT is safe in children and adolescents.

FDA panel deems electroshock devices high risk

In fact, guidelines for its use in these patients were published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 2004. The essence of these guidelines is that ECT should be considered in children with severe psychiatric disorders and/or in cases of significant suicide risk when other interventions have failed.

To understand these guidelines, we have to keep two somewhat opposite truths in mind. The first truth is that most children and adolescents with psychiatric struggles can be helped immensely by psychotherapeutic or pharmacological interventions, not only for themselves but for their parents.

For example, a large recent study showed that resolving a mother's depression had a bigger positive effect on the mental health of her children than it had on her.

The second truth is that, although rare, cases of severe mood and psychotic disorders in young people are not unknown. These cases can be catastrophic, as anyone who has worked on an inpatient child/adolescent psychiatric unit can attest. When young people with these conditions have failed other interventions, ECT can be a lifesaver.

By the way, I'm not using the word "lifesaver" in a metaphoric sense. Before the age of modern medications, approximately 5% of patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals died from their symptoms.

Today, we rarely see a condition called malignant catatonia, but it used to be far more common, and it used to kill almost everyone who developed it.

Death usually came from extremely high body temperatures (up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit) or from the development of a pulmonary embolus or sudden cardiac death.

soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. zen monkey

    Why does this article neglect the side effects? Most prominent among them is severe memory loss. A lot of patients have said that this treatment is far worse than the disease, because so much of their past is lost forever. What happens when you forget your family, or how to do your job?

    April 27, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johng

      The "memory loss" you are referring to is not supported by studies of ECT, but speaks to the myth of this treatment resulting severe brain damage. There are some cognitive issues post treatment, but they are usually transient and no more severe than using "safe" antipsychotic drug therapies.

      April 27, 2011 at 19:21 | Report abuse |
    • memory problems

      Memory loss is experienced by nearly everyone receiving ECT but the vast majority of people have very transient memory loss and completely recover their memory quickly (within hours). However, some people receiving ECT experience profound memory loss and it can last months, years or be permanent in some fashion including both recollection of memories and making new memories. Right now, nobody can predict who will experience lasting memory loss but if your choices include unmitigated depression or mania or malignant catatonia and memory loss, most people correctly opt for ECT treatments. They are indeed safe, effective for most people and have few lasting side effects. For those like me who have greatly improved quality of life due to amelioration of psychiatric symptoms, it blows to continue to have memory problems (I am in the very rare category) but I am thankful to be largely freed from the hell of continuous illness.

      April 27, 2011 at 19:34 | Report abuse |
    • Jeanne Salmon

      I underwnent ECT 15 years ago for severe depression. They had to stop the treatments because the memory loss was so severe. I continue to have memory loss. In addition, there were personality changes that my family and friends noted. It has been a very hard battle fighting my way back from these "sied effects. Would I do it again? Not on your life. Can it be a life saver for some – yes. But for me, the damages weren't worth it.

      April 27, 2011 at 20:51 | Report abuse |
    • Devon

      it's disgusting how a whole industry will hide the truth about ECT and how numerous well controlled studies show extreme brain damage, or like getting a moderate brain injury mulitpple times. It kills nerve cells, causes high blood pressure in brain during treatment. the harmful brain damaging effects are too numerous to count. It's silly to try to explain how a high voltage shock endusing a seizure, something intself very harmful to the brain can not be damaging. I have spoken to former ECt patients and read many accounts, just people telling like it really is, of personality changes, horrific years lost some total autobiographical memory loss of life, and rapidly forgetting new things, and old, a kind of amnesia that is unique to ECT and very horrific. I had ECT, and it destroyed my life and ablities, even to drive, spell, speak well, and I have all kinds of brain damaging symptoms that are explained in certain peer reviewed studies. ECT is a horrible closed head injury trauma, and that high or euphoric effect is due to the brain damage. It's ironic that even doctors who were so pro ECT, and well funded by the ECT industry now admit, some of them, that it causes severe brain damage, and brain damage of some form in 100 percent of recipients.

      July 16, 2011 at 20:00 | Report abuse |
  2. spiralwoman

    I agree with zen monkey. Back in 2003, my friend and housemate had ECT for depression. Before the treatment, she was functioning, and it seemed to me that she rushed into it. (She was, herself, a mental health professional, though not a psychiatrist.) After the treatment, she completely out of it, couldn't remember simple things, and seemed completely disconnected from life. When she realized that ECT was generally not a one-time treatment, that she'd likely need it again, she became even more depressed. Less than six months after the ECT she killed herself. I have mental health problems myself, and I would never, ever allow ECT to be done to me.

    April 27, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Annie

    Zen...you are correct that is does result in memory loss if you do ECT for a while. But, you must consider that patients undergoing that are usually doing so as a last ditch effort. I've suffered from depression for years, and quite frankly I would rather have a little memory loss than be depressed or suicidal.

    April 27, 2011 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. whistplerpotpie

    Can you please explain what the procedure entails? I get that it's electricity. Any other details? Ugh. Medical articles with no layperson explanation aren't helpful.

    April 27, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dobson5132543

      an alternative to whining in the comments: look it up on the internet.

      go team.

      April 27, 2011 at 20:22 | Report abuse |
    • John

      You are not conscious like in the movies. You are anaesthasised, a muscle relaxant is given. Then your brain is given an electric shock which induces an epileptic attack. It then fixes this attack by itself. Then you wake up.

      April 28, 2011 at 07:55 | Report abuse |
    • C. Smith

      John's correct, but a little more detail. The muscle relaxant is given so that your body doesn't convulse like in a normal epileptic seizure. The purpose of causing the seizure is specifically to allow the brain to fix it. The brain does this by something sort of like a reboot. It resets a whole slew of chemical and electrical processes in the brain, many of which may have gone haywire and caused mental problems.

      Memory problems are temporary, usually resolving before the patient leaves the hospital (a few hours). In very rare cases, they can last a day or more. In extremely rare cases, it can last for months or even years, but the odds of that are less than the odds of anti-depressants causing a sudden massive depressive episode leading to suicide.

      It's not something to consider lightly, by any means, but it is very effective.

      April 28, 2011 at 08:41 | Report abuse |
    • judy

      nobody tells you about the guard they put in you rmouth, the broken teeth, and black holes under your gums.
      nor do the doctors tell you about the permanent dents in your arms and permanent brain damage, much, like, a deflated basketball.
      or does anyone mention that you cannot remember your life. I know. the doctors don't know. they say...short term memory loss. how do they know? have they had it? I had 17 treatments in jan.-feb. of 1998, and don't remember ANY of my life. I have also been other drs. psychiatrists, priests, and healing masses. I am a catatonic zombie for the remainder of my years. with no judy personality.
      I know there are success stories, but the people I have talked to, who...know someone, who know someone...at least 15 of past or present accounts, only 2 have benefitted from it.
      I would never recommend it. ever.

      June 23, 2013 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
  5. T3chsupport

    Know what else was 'effective'?

    April 27, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. lynn

    any parent (or anyone else for that matter) who considers it for others should first undergo the procedure for themselves. It is barbaric at best.. and to cite a study that is 7 years old in a field (medicine) that is constantly changing is completely unprofessional

    April 27, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ECT

      Lynn, I'm alive and doing much better today because of ECT and continued pharmacotherapy. It isn't barbaric in the least. Witholding proved therapy from someone critically ill (I guess it's ok to watch your child progress to suicide?) because of your own obviously uneducated beliefs is barbaric. If I had a chronically or acutely suicidal child, spouse or friend who didn't respond to other therapies, I'd definitely recommend ECT. If I returned to that state, I'd do it again. Get a clue and talk to people who have gone through it. It's painless and it works. Untreated/unresponsive psychiatric illness is excruciating. This is a "no brainer".

      April 27, 2011 at 19:44 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      My 28 year old daughter had ECT and does suffer some memory loss. Going to ECT was a last ditch effort after suffering severe depression for 10 years. She tried to commit suicide three times but luckily was unsuccessfull. She has Bipolar II and is on medications that help tremendously but the severe depression is not so easily solved. Unless you have been through this hell yourself or have seen your loved one go through this hell you wouldn't understand. Each additional year with my daughter is a blessing. I'd give up my arms, legs, my life to make her well.

      April 27, 2011 at 23:18 | Report abuse |
    • Tony Bowling

      I totally agree with Lynn. I would add that there is no logical, sensible, or scientific reason why putting a bolt of electricity though one's head (or any other body part) would improve anyone's condition. And to ECT's statement that it isn't barbaric: I have seen video of it being "administered" and I would not wish it on my worse enemy. And ECT may be doing "better" in his or her own eyes but what kind of despot would recommend or support doing that to a child even with the excuse of "but they are suicidal". Most suicidal cases are due to psych drugs in the first place. Just note how suicides are AFTER drugs.They create the condition, then ECT is the only "solution". Criminal to the extreme. Unconditionally.

      April 28, 2011 at 02:37 | Report abuse |
    • C. Smith

      Tony, you don't know what you're talking about. How old was the 'video of the procedure' you saw? 50+ years? If you saw anything more than a toe twitching in a sleeping patient, then probably. These days that's all that happens.

      And no, most suicides aren't due to the drugs in the first place. A very few are. Some are in spite of the drugs (meaning the person had tried before, gone on drugs, and then tried again), but most are in complete absence of any (prescribed) drugs.

      April 28, 2011 at 08:44 | Report abuse |
    • judy

      barbaric is the right word.

      June 23, 2013 at 16:09 | Report abuse |
  7. dynan3

    Upset a policeman..free ETC!!!

    April 27, 2011 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Joe10

    As a therapist I've witnessed many ECT procedures and in every case after these treatments the patient experienced a dramatic improvement to their mental wellbeing. The procedure is usually performed unilaterally, that is an electrode is place on the top of the patient's head and another near the temple area. The patient is sedated under general anesthetic and his/her vital signs are monitored by an anesthesiologist. After a muscle contraction monitor is apply to one of the patient's fingers the psychiatrist applies a short electric pulse through the electrodes. Since the patient is fully sedated there is just a momentary body twitch and resulting brain wave seizers are monitored. This lasts about a minute. The patience appears fully relaxed during this time. The patient is then then taken to post-op and re-awoken from the anesthesia.

    From my experience the patient experienced no memory loss from the ECT treatment.

    April 27, 2011 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tony Bowling

      I'm sorry but you are either lying or unobservant of what really happens. You are probably just supporting the barbaric procedures that you took part in. Why would we believe you or any doctors in a profession that has pre-frontal lobotomy stated in your own text books as a workable, beneficial procedure. An ice pick type tool pushed through the eye socket opening into the brain to kill off part of the brain. A "profession" that has that on their books cannot be believed.

      April 28, 2011 at 02:54 | Report abuse |
    • judy

      as a therapist you witnessed the ECT procedure...try being a patient, then you can give an even more accuate account of what happens....if you remember....

      June 23, 2013 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
  9. dawn

    My husband has had severe depression for years even as a child. After years of therapy and every medication available he was just getting worse. At the time our children were small and as a last resort he had two rounds of ECT during one year. The first was inpatient the 2nd outpatient. Yes he had slight memory loss the day of each treatment. But never forgot who he was, any skills or any of his past. He is currently only on medication 10 years later with a very highly respected job and two daughters doing great in college. Yes it was a sad and terrifying time. But if not for ECT I know he would not be here today.

    April 27, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Linda

    I have suffered traumatic brain injury that is expressed with severe memory loss, major concentration deficits, an inability to process indormation and unable to continue my profession as a high school principal as a result of seeking ECT treatment for a major depressive episode.

    The psychiatrist administered 52 ECT Treatments over a three month period of time when somewhere in the zombie state I was in as a result of this irresponsible treatment regime I found enough of my soul to order them stopped. Two years later I am left with limited abiltiy to function in everyday life issues and occurrences.

    ECT is not safe as long as professionals are allowed to administer excessive amounts of the procedure without oversight and a requirement to compensate those of us who have seen their lives changed forever.

    Please check the alternatives to ECT as the consequences of it's use is irreprehensible.

    April 27, 2011 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      Every field has bad practioners that shouldn't hold their positions. I'm sorry you had to experience this with someone who sounds inept. My 28 year old daughter had several ECT treyments and would not be alive today if it were not for this treatment,

      April 27, 2011 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
  11. Paul NYC

    I have a friend that undergoes this regularly. I had helped her put up signs and notices around her house so she would be reminded of things that were lost after the treatment. I know it helps her severe depression but it's sad when she asks about things we've done together because she sees them in a journal but can't remember having done them.

    April 27, 2011 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Michael

    I heard a psychiatrist who uses ECT on his patients describe it as violently shaking the patient's head in order to create change (hopefully positive) in the patient's brain processes. It could go either way. He said that it was a roll of the dice. If the patient and family are desperate and seeking quick change, ECT is a more attractive choice than a long period of psychotherapy and drug therapy in many cases. Also ECT is covered by health insurance and therefore the cheaper choice.

    April 27, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sherri

    My grandmother recieved shock treatments, as we called them, back in the 60's and early 70's. She had suffered from episodes of depression and nervous breakdowns. By the time she was in her 50's she was diagnosed as a paranoid schizoprenic. We have no medical proof, because doctors admit nothing, but we can only assume that such a late onset of schizoprenia was caused by all the electric shocks to her brain.

    April 27, 2011 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jimmy James

      "She suffered from episodes of depression and nervous breakdowns." Sounds like she already had the schizophrenia. It just took a while to get it adequately diagnosed.

      April 27, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
  14. Dave

    In Soviet Union ECT work very well. No memory, no problem.

    April 27, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Mr. Slave

    I shocked myself with a dog collar once. Oh, Jeethus, Jeethus Christh!

    April 27, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • checking in from 2013

      I don't know if you'll ever see this, but that reference on a page like this absolutely delights me.

      August 3, 2013 at 02:03 | Report abuse |
  16. Ervin

    I will NEVER forget being taken to visit my mother after her ECT treatment. I was 8 years old. She didn't know who I was. No one warned me. A week later I was alone with her when she suffered a grand mal seziure. After the nurses rushed her away she died for over a minute. She spent the last 5 years of her 36 year long life continuing to battle depression, bi polar and addiction issues. ECT may help some. It did not help my mom. It did not help her daughter.

    April 27, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Scott

    This guy is a shill for the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatry in general. He is utterly clueless. ECT causes brain damage. This is a fact. Sometimes, however, this helps people. Even though they're cognitive functioning has declined and they're memory has deteriorated, it might help them if they are severely psychotic and other remedies have not worked. In 2009 Dr. Raison received $30,000 from pharma companies and this whole section is sponsored by "Pharmacy". And the best part about this section is that once this goes to the main health page, all of these comments are hidden with no further comments allowed. This guy is dangerous when he says ECT is "by far the most effective treatment in psychiatry". If he means the most effective at giving brain damage, which psychiatry has a long history of doing and is still doing with medication then yea, its effective.

    April 27, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      Don't knock untill you've tried it. Drugs can control Bipolar mania and schizophrenia but cannot control severe depression in some cases. My 28 year old daughter attemoted suicide three times and had ECT treatments as a last resort. It helped immensely but not 100%. There are still times when she wishes she were not alive. Unless you've dealt directly with this hell I would base opinion on internet trolling.

      April 27, 2011 at 23:30 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      ECT causes brain damage. That is a fact. I am basing my statement on research, not internet trolling. That doesn't mean that it doesn't work for some people. This is a highly risky procedure that Raison seems to downplay. That is what i am saying.

      April 27, 2011 at 23:43 | Report abuse |
    • Ricardo Frade

      You are absolutly right, Scott. There is no doubt that ECT causes brain damage.
      I tought that ECT had been abolished, and i am surprised to see that ECT continues to be praticed. Shame on psychiatry!

      May 20, 2012 at 19:29 | Report abuse |
  18. Bobby

    I hear the supplement Sam-e has shown promise in treating depression with little side-effects.. We need more research into non-drug therapy/Pharm therapy..

    April 27, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SAM-e

      SAM-e is a drug, dumb dumb. Whether substances are synthesized, purified from extracts or injested in non-purified form (ie getting nicotine from smoking a cigarette), it's a DRUG. All compounds that are injested to effect a change are DRUGS. Get a clue. Pharmaceuticals are PURE compounds. "Extracts" and "botanicals" are big unknowns with questionable content and efficacy. Go ahead, spend your money on "botanicals" that are really ground up weeds from some entrepeneur's side yard or maybe lawn mover clippings. "Botanicals" aren't FDA approved and can contain anything (or nothing at all). Look it up and then go drop another $200 in GNC.

      April 27, 2011 at 19:57 | Report abuse |
  19. Tabitha

    Severe depression and other mental illnesses effect millions of Americans. There are so many treatment choices available because there are so many variables in what works. A medication regiment that works great with one individual may not work at all for another. Sometimes the treatment that works best may cause side effects that are even worse. Some examples include weight gain, diabetes, negative mental status changes etc. Like every illness one needs to weigh the pros and cons of treatments. I work in the mental health field and I know people who have had great relief from ECT treatments. However, that does not mean it is right for the individual. A prescriber will discuss the pros and cons of different treatments. In my experience therapies that have the least side effects are normally tried before more extreme treatments.

    April 27, 2011 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Richard

    The so-called doctor who wrote this article has been incredibly misleading in defense of a very dangerous practice. I suggest people access mindfreedom.com or read some of the critical analysis of Dr. Peter Breggin to find out the truth about the dangers of ECT. Think about all the recent research done about the dangers of concussions to the brain; the effects on the brain of ECT is very similar to blunt head trauma and has the same results. Of course some people feel better for a short time after ECT because they have literally forgotten why they were depressed among the loss of other memories. However reality reasserts itself very soon and people start to face the same problems in their life that have not yet been resolve and they relapse into depression. That is why one psychiatrist told me that ECT was 100 percent recidivist – people need more and more treatment and thus more and more blunt head injury and potentially more damage. This article was nothing more than a puff piece for Biological Psychiatry to promote all their biological treatments and pharmaceutical drugs which reap this industry huge profits while damaging one of society's most vulnerable sections of the population.

    April 27, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      You personally must not have ever been in a situation where you were asked to choose ECT. When prescriptions of all types and maximum doses of all drugs have been given over a period of 3 weeks and there is no change in one of your loved ones you may feel differently. I know personally I was in a position where I had to make a decision for my daughter as no psychiatric drugs were working and full blown mania was still not under control. It was heart wrenching and a very difficult decision and personally I went with the ECT option as a point of desperation. Although it did have some side effects such as loss of memory and some emotional times. However, I am happy to say for me the decision worked out and it has been 2+ years and today she is a beautiful young woman and if I was faced with the same situation again (I don't wish this on anyone) I would choose the same road and I am forever great full for her Psychiatrist for offering another option.

      April 27, 2011 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
    • ECT works

      Richard, as someone who chose to receive ECT while profoundly and suicidally depressed (and hospitalized), I can say after just four treatments, it snapped me right out of my depression and allowed me to function again so I could begin to rebuild with further pharmacological treatment and counselling. No, I don't have brain damage from the procedure and if I was faced with the same intractable depression again, I'd do the ECT again. Suicidal depression is far more dangerous than anything else. Coronary artery bypass is dangerous. Would you categorically blackball that for people with severely occulded arteries? No. Psychiatry is still relatively in its infancy, yes, but ECT is proven in certain indications and also yes, mental illness is biological and can respond to biological interventions.

      April 27, 2011 at 20:06 | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      People become "so called doctors" if they dont agree with your view of the world. Read the studies for yourself than spouting propaganda.

      April 28, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
  21. G

    Just about 2 years ago I myself recieved electric shock therapy. I was in a state of hyper-mania and was not responding to any medications. I had not slept for almost 2 weeks (which can be life threatening) and had been in the hospital for almost a month before they (my doctor and my mother) decided to try to electric shock. After a few sessions...I began to come out of my manic state. I lost almost a year of memory (most of my memories for the year prior were 'spotty' or incomplete) which was VERY difficult to get over, but I thank those who made the decision to help me when I could not. If I had not had the therapy there is a good chance I would still be in a long-term care psychiatric hospital. When I was well enough, I was given the choice to continue the therapy or not and I refused to continue. After the therapy was over it took me about 4-5 months to get back to 'myself'. It was a very difficult and emotional 5 months for me but it does not compare to the trauma my family experienced while I was sick. I believe it should be used as a last resort, as the side effects are serious and difficult to get over emotionally (for me at least), but personally, I am glad the option was there when other treatments did not work.

    April 27, 2011 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ECT works

      G, it takes 6 months – 2 years to get over a severe mood episode whether or not ECT is involved. I know, I and many others have been through this many times. Don't be so quick to blame the ECT for your resultant moodiness and difficult convalescence. It's rough going for everyone. Manic depression blows and not breaking your mania with ECT probably would have resulted in brain damage or even death. Durable memory loss from ECT or a severe episode blows too but is a smaller price to pay for the chance to recover. I feel your pain.

      April 27, 2011 at 20:13 | Report abuse |
  22. oneHigginsD@hotmail.com

    I think Dr. Gupta should demonstrate the Technique on Himself in much the same way that Katie Couric had her colonoscopy Televised.

    April 27, 2011 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frank Zapped

      Absolutely. And that goes for all of the other shills for the shock industry that insist the treatment is "safe and effective". And a follow up cognitive exam should be given on National TV six months out.

      February 15, 2013 at 21:44 | Report abuse |
  23. oneHigginsD@hotmail.com

    Someday the Leeches will be put in their Bottles. Connecting the Jumper Cables from my Car battery MIGHT make my glitchy PC behave – but I doubt it.

    April 27, 2011 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jamie

      You shouldnt have stopped taking your pills.

      April 28, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
  24. barb

    Why is seizures as side effects not mentioned? A mental hospital in Nova Scotia used ECT on its patients and found that many had seizures. The hospital stopped the procedure and many have even shut down.

    April 27, 2011 at 23:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      Duh! ECT is done to create a minor seizure in the brain and this reduces the effects of depression. If seizures occur outside the ECT treatment then something is wrong and the Doctors need to address this. How old is your data?

      April 27, 2011 at 23:35 | Report abuse |
    • Tony Bowling

      I am responding to Brian "Duh! ECT is done to create a minor seizure in the brain and this reduces the effects of depression." This statement is NOT true. If anyone wrote this in any medical paper then it was NOT supported with any real proof. Brian is either making this up or he has been blinded by some "scientific" jargon that isn't really scientific. You hear the psychs and the pharmaceutical pill pusher talk about chemical imbalance in the brain. What imbalance? Where is the proof. Where is the proof to what Brian wrote? Show us the proof!

      April 28, 2011 at 03:08 | Report abuse |
  25. CozKaren

    My father underwent ICT and ECT treatments on different occasions in the 50s-60s. These were ordered by the Navy, and later by Dept. of State. He observed and reported things that couldn't not be public knowledge and couldn't "get out". He doesn't have any recall of the events or the treatments. I was young, so I don't recall him having widespread memory loss. ICT in Insulin Coma Theraphy, a similar procedure that in those days it was likely they didn't use sedation.

    Some of his treatments were done at the same hospital that Dr. John Nash's (A Beautiful Mind (movie) were done.

    Ironically, one incident he reported did come to light and received minor media attention.

    April 28, 2011 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. safe_means_what

    Watch people who have chronic exposure to propane and natural gas. Some get depressed, many become irritable, some become schizophrenic. I have seizures when exposed.

    I can understand that a seizure makes depressed people feel better (for a while) but every episode is a game of Russian roulette. Why not try to eliminate the causes first. Some of them are quite obvious if you look around and give it some thought.

    April 28, 2011 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Brittany (BadPsych)

    This is absolutely insane! ECT is very dangerous to adult, especially to children since their brains are continuing to develop. This is an act of child abuse and child endangerment. How can these quakes even consider themselves true professionals in the mental health field when they're disabling people through these kind of "treatments". Their drugs are no different either as it causes people to commit suicide. Memories are absolutely important to us. Losing them would mean that you lost a part of your personality, and who you are as a human being. In some countries ECT is actually banned. How come it hasn't been banned here yet?

    April 28, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Brittany (BadPsych)


    April 28, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. in support of real research

    Dr. Raison need's to check his facts! he is obviously a "well trained" clinition is the sence that he is giveing the INDUSTRY trained responce. however the science behind ECT will tell a different story. For years the research labs in cognitive and biopsych have showen through countless EXPEIREMENTAL research have defined the effects of ECT as BRAIN DAMAGE. ALL research I have ever read citing the bennifits of ECT have been corralative (meaning their is no proven causal benifit to ECT). ECT is illeagal in a large portion of the world and would be ileagle here if it wasn't so profitiable for insurance companeys. if you are concidering ECT for your child please consult a biopsychology professor at your local university to find out more about the damage that ECT will inflict on the developing brain of your child. I beg you as a father and a psychologist please seek more information.

    May 8, 2011 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Crystal

    Had Ect several times was forced to have them in patient now can not finish college memory gone. Can not get it back, they never helped me. Sorry but I hate ect to the point the they may help some people and cause others to die. Me I'm not well cause I had them. So it's up to you and the dr that talks you into them. Beware of Ect side effects.

    October 2, 2011 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Mike Traylor

    Many good points have been brought up in this ECT conversation. I think the opinions of those who have actually RECEIVED ECT should be better listened to. ECT for me was negative. Had the ECT in 2004 and I am not even close to having my memory restored (6+ years later). My relief from depression was minimal and not for my wife being so strong for us, I am sure that I would have committed suicide. A handful of meds three times a day is what finally has me in a tolerable state, but far from the person that I was before ECT. Talk to people that had been thru the ect therapy.

    February 7, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • judy

      Thank you, Mike. The opinions of shock people should be the ones listened to. I had 17 shocks to the brain, in jan.-feb., 1998, and have been, like a catatonic zombie since, with no memory recall of any of my life.
      In my personal opinion, and conversation with other people who, either went through themselves, or helped another go through this, the people who actually benefit may be in the minority, and, after reading a number of blogs, and posts, I continue to believe, a very small minority. I have no idea the percentage, a guesstimate on my part would not be accurate.
      Are there any statistics? Statewide? Nationwide? Does it matter?
      All I can give is my own experience, and in a few words, barbaric, catatonic, zombie, knives...stabbing me in the thing that use to be my brain...a deflated basketball, as in, no brain matter, and no peaceful, once personality...

      June 23, 2013 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
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    September 12, 2012 at 05:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Cliff1WBeers

    The comments here by the public all concurred that ECT causes brain damage. The ECT stake holders are the ones who
    deny the brain damage from ECT. ECT is a controversal treatment. This discussion verifies it. I myself am an ECT survivor.
    I fell for it because my ex-psychiatrist was an ECT promotor. I was working inspite of my depression. Now I cannot hold a
    job anymore. I cannot drive anymore. I cannot take care of my activities of daily living and am totally dependent on my wife. And I am even more depressed because of the brain damage compounding my original depression. The brain damage is irreversible. Even if you are desperate, there are other measures you could take. That said. I do not have the organization ability, the in tellectual capacity to start a lawsuit. By the way I had the ECT 18 times 18 months ago in a major academic center in NY. I had the latest Ultra Brief Electric Impulse Unilateral ECT to the Right Side of the brain. It is the latest version, supposed to be the safest. I was never informed that this version of ECT uses extremely high electronic bombardment of the brain, at least six times the seizure threshold. The electric pulse might be ultra brief. But each ultra brief pulse sprays a super huge number of electrons. It aims at the right side of the brain. The damages are harder to measure and to verbalize. But I feel the real me died after the ECT treatment. I hope my post if helpful to off set the ECT promoting stake holder. They are the ones with the impressive academic credentials. Therefore they are the most dangerous. They sound so believable.

    January 13, 2013 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Cliff1WBeers

    I have had ECT 18 months ago, 18 treatments. I had it in a major academic center in NYC. I had the latest Ultra Brief Right Side of the Brain Unilateral Sprathreshold (6 times seizure threshold) high electric energy bombardment ECt. It was staged
    as a most humane and civiliized procedure. I had a depression, nontheless I had a steady professional job. The real me died
    in the ECT treatment. I cannot drive, I cannot work. I long for Euthanasia. Why such evil exist in this world. I went to the psychiatrists for help, and they destroyed me. I could live with a depression, and would have tried to outlast the depression. Now, nothing is left with my life. I hope that this posts. My postings has been censored by many discussion groups, some of them depend on ECT related advertisements. I hope that this discussion group does not.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Cliff1WBeers

    I apologize for my double posting. In truth I didnot and could not remember that I posted it once already. My ability to form new
    memories is mostly not there.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Lily

    My doc says it's safe; people go right back to work the next day. I just don't believe him. Sounds dangerous

    April 3, 2013 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
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  38. KJD

    I can tell u personally that on had two done to me in 2010, after medications stopped working after years of feeling on top of the world. As a last resort and not in my right mind, and your not when your world is like someone turned a light switch off in your brain. I awoke from the first one with a tear running down my cheek and I knew that my life would never be the same. After the second one and a intervention from my mom, it was over. I am a 100% disabled veteran, and can tell u personally the drugs themselves set you up for more chronic medical conditions later in life. I've had testicular cancer, do have crohn's, diabetes, high blood pressure, and too many other medical conditons to list. I just finished treatment for p.t.s.d. at a V.A. facility and finally had a ex captain in the navy psych doctor tell me I never should have had the treatments and that were doing more harm then good with the meds. The American people either don't care or so doped up that are stupid to say these are effective treatments. My mom is now my primary care giver and pays my bills and takes care of things I used to be able to do so easily. I would love to do treatment on the proponents of the treatments and see if they can still operate at a high functioning level! That includes both drugs and ect treatment and I would start with the big pharma companies and the sales reps, then move onto the doctors.

    August 11, 2013 at 21:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      I received about 15 treatments or so a couple of years ago. I was still in the Army and being treated for PTSD related depression. What a huge mistake. My life hasn't been the same since. There are days that I am just so confused I don't know what to do. I will start out with a plan and then anything can deviate me from it. I can't pay attention to much for any length of time. I was in the Warrior Transition Unit for two years prior to retiring from the military. All I did during that time was go to the doctor. Now that I am out I HATE going to the doctor and I think I would have to be half dead to get me there. I'm rated at 100% as well and I did 21 years on active duty. This is not how I planned spending my retirement years. Angry and confused. Nobody really cares anyway. All the VA wants to do is give me more drugs and I don't want any of it anymore. It's all garbage. That is what made me this way.

      October 7, 2014 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  39. Barbara

    ECT turned out to be the absolute worst thing I could have done to myself. If only I had it to do over–DONT do it!
    I've suffered more since the ECT (3 years) than ever before.

    June 8, 2015 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Annie

    I was a child that was raised by a mother who had a number of shock treatments in the 50's as an adolescent. Because of them she had no recollection of her early childhood so therefore as a mother she could not relate to pain,rejection, or suffering. I never have seen her cry. If she sees someone doing it she's puzzled and I find her copying what she thinks might be a normal response to try to hide it, but it comes off fake. To this day she is naturally cold and unfeeling, and never have I been emotionally supported because she honestly did not feel so she couldn't give what she didn't know. Her siblings are normal emotionally. The feeling part of her brain is fried. Please it's just not memory loss that might go missing. You might lose the soul too.

    November 26, 2015 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
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