Shock therapy: New twist on an old treatment for depression
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- 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 basically would get up and sit on the couch and stare at the wall," Jim Adkins said.
It got so bad this father of three nearly followed in his dad's footsteps.
"I attempted suicide twice. I was just at the end of my rope," Jim said.
Drugs and therapy didn't work, so Jim's doctor told him about shock therapy, now known as ECT.
"I was a little reluctant, skeptical, and scared," Jim said.
Duke psychiatrist Richard Weiner says ECT has been used since the 1930s, but Hollywood gave it a bad rap.
"For a lot of the public, what they know about ECT is what they saw on one flew over the cuckoo's nest. The treatments don't look anything like they used to look," Richard Weiner, M.D., PhD, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine, explained.
Jim's on his thirteenth treatment. Doctors first give him general anesthesia and a muscle relaxer. 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 ETC," Dr. Weiner said. "It's just that ECT does it more powerfully."
There's no pain, and studies show for those who are good candidates, ECT works between 80 and 90 percent of the time. There are risks including headache, muscle pain, nausea and temporary memory problems, still, Jim's happy he gave it a try. Since starting ECT, he hasn't had any thoughts of suicide.
"Now, there's hope," Jim said. "I see a future."
The number of patients using ECT has tripled since the 1980s. Most patients will need follow-up treatments or other drug therapies after ECT. The shock therapy is mainly used for patients with severe, debilitating depression.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Senior Media Relations Specialist
Duke Medicine News and Communications
health watch, margot kim
- Crimeans overwhelmingly vote for secession 45 min ago
- Final words from jet came after systems shutdown 1 min ago
- 2.8-magnitude earthquake hits Coalinga area 24 min ago
- Authorities probe murder outside Merced apartment
- Teenage boy shot and killed in Tulare
- Visalia man accused of sexually exploiting boy
- Amber Alert issued for 4 LA-area children
- Fresno State women win Mountain West title
- Car wash held to help family of murdered coach
- Visalia shooting sends man to hospital
- Man arrested after Hanford drug and weapons bust
- Honda recalling 886,815 Odyssey minivans
- Comedian David Brenner, 'Tonight' favorite, dies
- Photos: Photos of David Brenner through the years