Shock Therapy Saves Lives

Published 05/14 2012 03:20PM

Updated 05/14 2012 07:06PM


ONE IN 10 ADULTS SUFFERS FROM SOME TYPE OF DEPRESSION.
MEDICATIONS AND PSYCHOTHERAPY ARE COMMON TREATMENTS, BUT FOR MANY, THEY JUST DON'T WORK.
NOW A TREATMENT CONSIDERED BARBARIC DECADES AGO IS MAKING A BIG COMEBACK.
THE PAST SIX YEARS HAVE BEEN ANYTHING BUT EASY FOR JIM AND AMY ADKINS. JIM SUFFERS FROM SEVERE DEPRESSION THAT STARTED WHEN HIS DAD COMMITTED SUICIDE.
"I attempted suicide twice. I was just at the end of my rope."
DRUGS AND THERAPY DIDN'T WORK, SO JIM'S DOCTOR TOLD HIM ABOUT SHOCK THERAPY - NOW KNOWN AS E-C-T. DUKE PSYCHIATRIST RICHARD WEINER  -- SAYS E-C-T HAS BEEN USED SINCE THE 1930S - BUT HOLLYWOOD GAVE IT A BAD RAP.
"For a lot of the public, what they know about E-C-T is what they saw on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
 TODAY - JIM'S GETTING HIS THIRTEENTH TREATMENT. DOCTORS FIRST GIVE HIM GENERAL ANESTHESIA AND A MUSCLE RELAXER.  ("Really deep breaths.")
ONCE JIM'S ASLEEP, DOCTORS DELIVER A QUICK ELECTRICAL CURRENT THAT CAUSES A SEIZURE IN THE BRAIN.
THE SEIZURE PRODUCES CHEMICAL CHANGES IN THE BRAIN THAT REDUCE THE DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS.
"The same kind of neurotransmitter changes that occur with antidepressants also occur with E-C-T. It's just that E-C-T does it more powerfully."
THERE'S NO PAIN, AND STUDIES SHOW FOR THOSE WHO ARE GOOD CANDIDATES, E-C-T WORKS BETWEEN 80 AND 90 PERCENT OF THE TIME. BUT THERE ARE RISKS - INCLUDING HEADACHE, MUSCLE PAIN, NAUSEA AND TEMPORARY MEMORY PROBLEMS. STILL, JIM'S HAPPY HE GAVE IT A TRY. SINCE STARTING E-C-T, HE HASN'T HAD ANY THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE.  
"Now, there's hope. I see a future."
 AN OLD PROCEDURE THAT GAVE THIS MAN A NEW LIFE.
THE NUMBER OF PATIENTS USING E-C-T HAS TRIPLED SINCE THE 1980'S.
MOST PATIENTS WILL NEED FOLLOW-UP TREATMENTS OR OTHER DRUG THERAPIES AFTER E-C-T.
THE SHOCK THERAPY IS MAINLY USED FOR PATIENTS WITH SEVERE, DEBILITATING DEPRESSION.

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