Despite the Stigma, ECT Remains a Gold Standard
When a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy fails to control severe mental illness, there's hope on the horizon. ECT can be a reliably safe and effective option. For some patients, using it as maintenance therapy makes sense, said Vaughn McCall, MD, editor-in-chief of The Journal of ECT and professor and chairman of psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. "I would think of it the same way as you have to treat any chronic illness," such as blood pressure medicine to keep hypertension in check and dialysis to prevent kidney failure. Despite a cacophony of contrarian voices — mainly from the Church of Scientology — "the number of psychiatrists who see controversy in ECT is vanishingly small," McCall said. "Within the discipline of psychiatry itself, there really is no controversy." In weighing the pros and cons of ECT, he noted that "when you're trying to decide if it's worth doing a treatment, you're looking at the effectiveness on one hand and the side effects on the other hand."
@lipi A recent study published in The Lancet Psychiatry provides a significant degree of reassurance that ECT — also called "electroshock" or colloquially just "shock" therapy — does not increase the risk of serious medical side effects. In fact, the study suggests a potential benefit in reducing suicide risk. First performed in 1938, the treatment has been well documented in the medical literature. But negative portrayals in books and movies, such as the 1975 film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," have contributed to casting it in an unfavorable light.