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What is ECT? (A01 points)
ECT aims is to produce a seizure lasting up to a
minute (after which the brain activity should
return to normal) by placing electrodes on the
patient's temples and delivering a small electrical
current current. (1)
It is used to treat people with severe depression
or schizophrenia, and who also had epilepsy,
seemed to feel better after having a fit. Research
suggests that the effect is due to the fit rather
than the electrical current. (1)…read more

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How does it work?
-An electrode is placed above each temple
-The patient is sedated which gives a nerve
blocking agent in order to prevent muscles from
contracting causing fractures.
-The patient is given oxygen
-A small amount of electric current, 0.6amps,
lasting about half a second is passed through the
brain producing a seizure
-It is usually given 3times a week, with the patient
often needing between 3-15 treatments. (2)…read more

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Why does it work?
-Abrams (1997) studied ECT for 50years and
concluded that we are no closer to
understanding why it works, however many
researches believe that ECT causes changes in
the way the brain works. In very severe types of
depression some parts of the brain may not
function, for example they may have trouble
communicating, ECT alerts the way
neurotransmitters are acting in order to bring
about a recovery. (2)…read more

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Strengths and Weaknesses (A02
points)
-Mental health campaigners say that, although it may
work in the short term, it is unclear what its long-term
effects are. (1)
+Supporters of ECT claim its an effective treatment
which works when other treatments have not, ECT can
be life saving in severe cases of depression when there
is a chance of suicide. (1)
+Effective, Comer (2002) states that 60-70% of ECT
patients improve after treatment (high external validity)
However, Sackheim et al (2001) found that 84% of the
patients they have studies relapsed within 6months,
therefore it can be said it does not have a long-term
effect, it is only a short-term solution (low reliability). (1)…read more

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-There have been studies comparing ECT with `sham
ECT' where the patient undergoes the same treatment,
except that in `sham ECT' the patient does not receive
an electric shock. Studies have shown that patients who
have `real' ECT tend to recover much more quickly than
those who had the sham treatment, however the `sham
treatment' patients also recovered, suggesting that the
attention plays an important role on recovery. (1)
-According to Datto (2000)possible side effects of ECT
include impaired memory, cardiovascular changes and
headaches. (1)
-The DOH report (1999) found that among those
receiving ECT within the last 2years, 30%reported that it
had resulted into permanent fear and anxiety. (1)…read more

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