Researchers who worked on a study to be published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have said they have discovered the reason shock therapy is so effective at treating depression and other mental ailments, according to My Health Daily. The study looked at how shock therapy, otherwise known as electroconvulsive therapy, affects the pathways of the brain.
Scientists have long known ECT is in some cases an even more effective treatment for depression than many prescription medications. But until now, researchers did not understand what ECT did for the brain that produced its results.
Here is some of the key information about the new study regarding ECT and its effectiveness.
* The study was conducted by researchers working through the auspices of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
* The study involved nine patients, all of whom had been diagnosed with depression. All nine had undergone the usual prescribed routine of medications to treat their illness, without results.
* Bloomberg noted ECT has been in use to treat various mental ailments for more than 70 years. Some 10 percent to 20 percent of all patients who are diagnosed with depression undergo ECT treatments.
* The patients had brain scans done using MRI imaging before and after their treatments.
* CBS News reported the patients who participated in the study were given an average of eight ECT treatments over the course of the study.
* It was found after analyzing the MRI images that ECT works by "turning down" hyperactive brain connections that control mood, concentration, and cognition, according to Reuters.
* Scientists have believed for a few years that depression is largely caused by these hyperconnections in the brain, which affect its pathways. To study these pathways and their changes after ECT, the researchers at the University of Aberdeen had to come up with an entirely different mathematical model.
* The method of administering an ECT treatment has undergone a great deal of change in the last seven decades. Patients are put under with anesthesia before being induced to have a seizure using electrical impulses.
* ECT does have known side effects, including temporary memory loss and muscle spasms, which can be so strong as to be painful.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.
- Mental Health