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Electric Shock Therapy for treating unresponsive Chronic Depression

written by: AlyssaAst • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 8/5/2010

Unresponsive chronic depression is a common condition. In some cases, conventional medications for treating chronic depression may not be effective with certain people. Luckily, electric shock therapy has shown to benefit the treatment of chronic depression.

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    Recently, electric shock therapy (EST) has shown to benefit unresponsive chronic depression when other variations of depression treatment have been unsuccessful, such as antidepressant medications. The use of EST when treating chronic depression has shown to benefit a wide range of people, while causing few side effects. Side effects of this treatment are usually short term and do not leave any long lasting effects. EST is not the only form of treatment used for chronic depression but it is one of the most beneficial treatment options for patients with unresponsive chronic depression.

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    Who Can EST Benefit?

    Electric shock therapy can benefit many patients who have not found a treatment suitable for their depression, but it can also benefit patients that have had no luck with antidepressants. Patients suffering from suicidal thoughts can benefit from EST as well. This treatment has shown to be effective in treating elderly people who are suffering from chronic depression. This treatment is safe for pregnant women, as well as patients with heart conditions. In some cases, younger patients may be able to use EST for depression treatment also.

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    How is EST Preformed?

    EST for treating chronic depression is a relatively simple procedure. Patients are given a mild anesthetic prior to the procedure. A physician will pass small amounts of electrical currents through the patient's brain, which will cause a small seizure lasting approximately 40 seconds. Treatment generally occurs in 6 treatment session, which takes place every 2 to 5 days. More sessions may be necessary but will be conducted further apart.

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    What are the Side Effects of EST Treatment?

    There are some side effects of EST treatment, but they usually dissipate quickly and are not severe. The worst side effects of EST include temporary short term memory lapse and temporary confusion. Muscle soreness has been reported. A patient that has undergone EST treatment may experience headaches and heart disturbances. The drug Naloxone is often administered prior to the procedure to lessen the occurrence of side effects. There appears to be no risk of cell damage from EST treatments.

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    Other Options for Depression

    There are numerous other forms of depression treatment available other than antidepressants and EST. Acupuncture and sleep deprivation have shown to be effective as well. It is important to discuss with a health professional prior choosing a treatment option. A health professional will assist with choosing the correct treatment for your case of depression. Some treatment options may be combined with one another to produce the best benefits.

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    References:

    “Treatments for Depression" April 1, 2009 www.healthcentral.com

    “Electric Shock Treatment" December 9, 2001 www.ect.org

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