Biological therapies: ECT

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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

used in severely depressed patients for whom psychotherapy and medication have been ineffective. Used when there is a risk of suicide because results are much quicker than anti-depressant drugs.

How does it work?

  • electrode is placed above temple of non-dominant side of the brain and a second in the middle of the forehead
  • patient is injected so they are unconscious before electric shock is given. Nerve-blocking agent also givem to paralyse the muscles of the body preventing injuries
  • small current of electricity, lasting half a second, is passed through the brain. The current produced a seizure lasting up to a minute.
  • ECT is given up to 3 times a week and there are 3-15 treatments

Abrams studied ECT for 50 years and still doesn't know why it…

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