Biological therapies for depression:ECT


Biological therapies for depression:ECT


  • On the plus side there is one way of possibly minimising these side effects. It is thought that they can be minimised by using unilateral ECT rather than bilateral ECT. Sackeim found that unilateral ECT is less likely to cause cognitive problems than bilateral.


  • One problem with ECT is that it is still unclear how it actually wotks. This means that there may be other problems associated with it that we are unaware of. There have already been several side effects identified. Datto (2000) suggests that the main 3 side effects of ECT are impaired memory, headaches and cardiovascular changes. Rose et al supported one of these and concluded that at least one third of patients complained of persistent memory loss after ECT. Also, ECT has been linked with a general slowing of cognition, as shown by a study conducted by Weiner (1980). Although different researchers have identified different side effects, it is clear that it does have side effects and could be potentially damaging. Also, these side effects may make an individual less likely to accept ECT as a treatment for their depression.
  • Another problem with ECT is the ethics. The DOH report (1999) found that of 700 patients who received ECT when sectioned under the mental health act, 59% had not consented to treatment. Where patients receive treatment involuntarily there remains the issue of being fully informed about potential side effects.


Biological treatments are based on the assumption that the cause of depression is biological. However, of the cause is psychological (such as the result of bereavement and a continuous mourning period) then the treatment will not work. This could suggest why it is thought that SSRI's only mask depressive symptoms, because the cause of depression is not an imbalance of serotonin. Depression will most likely be cured if treatments weren't reductionist, they didn't reduce the cause of depression to one factor. It would be best of treatments combined biological and psychological factors.


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