A friend of mine has been struggling with depression for many years. Six years ago, it reached the stage that it disabled him and he sought treatment. Unable to work, he is on disability, which means he has to fight for treatment, struggle to get good medication, as well as figure out a way to survive on the little bit per month he gets. (Under $1000 monthly.)
After 6 years of therapy, averaging 1 session a month, being on at least 6 different medications and combinations there of, having been assigned 7 government psychologists – 4 of which have left social services – 2 psychiatrists, one of which retired and another whom he has never met, and having many frustrating battles with the disability and social service system, he is tired of not getting much better.
While he has made progress, he is not able to work and seems to have reached a point where he is ‘leveled’ off. He doesn’t get worse but he doesn’t get better. He takes 60 mg Paxil daily, which has some side affects – including knocking out his sex life for 5 years. He misses that. It takes intense stimulation for him to get aroused, which he often feels is not worth the effort. Then again, being depressed, he is reclusive and no longer has girl friends.
He is considering Electro-convulsive therapy as a potential last resort.
For you who don’t know what it is, the treatment has been around for ages, is controversial in the psychiatric community, seen on horror shows and has been modified and improved over the years.
It still basically is the following: A large amount of electrical current is shot from one side of the brain to the other, scrambling up everything in-between, causing moderate to severe convulsions physically. The results are hopefully to jangle the areas of the brain that have ‘learned’ mental illness of certain forms into ‘forgetting’ how to be ill.
If it works, the depression decreases, becomes far less severe and with regular conventional treatment, can be cured quickly. There is often temporary loss of memory after each treatment. Often, the program requires several treatments of ECT, during which the patient can develop functional amnesia, lasting anywhere from days to months.
The process, as I know of it, consists of the patient being hospitalized in a medical hospital. Before treatment, they are lightly sedated. Then, in the treatment room, they are placed on a table and secured with padded straps, an anesthetic injection is given to put the person in twilight sleep. A vynal mouth piece with an airway is placed in the mouth, adhesive contacts placed on the temples and connected to a machine similar to a cardiac shock device. Then jolts of variable power and duration are administered with Dr and nurses and emergency medical supplies standing by. The patient goes into convulsions lasting a few minutes. Afterwards, the patient is returned to his room to recover and will get another treatment usually the next day.
There is no guarantee that the desired results will be achieved.
Anyone here know about ECT? Had any? What do you think about them? I don’t know much, except that most psychiatrists don’t like them, but the treatment is approved by the medical and psychiatric community. Some people swear by them, some do not.
I don’t know what to tell him. I cannot offer an educated opinion.