Shock Therapy Eases Depression Symptoms

It improves mood and quality of life for people with major episodes

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 3, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- People with major depression experience improved mood, quality of life and daily living activities when treated with electroconvulsive therapy, or so-called shock therapy, a new study finds.

With ECT, patients are given a brief electrical shock to the brain to produce a generalized seizure, according to the study researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

The study, which included 77 people with major depression, found that 66 percent of them showed improvement at both two and four weeks after ECT. The findings appear in the November issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Earlier Wake Forest research had found that patients treated with ECT showed more improved function and quality of life than patients who took antidepressants.

"ECT produces a net improvement in health for most patients," study author Dr. Vaughn McCall, a professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Wake Forest, said in a prepared statement.

He said the findings indicate that a restrictive attitude toward ECT is not warranted. Last year, Britain's National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommended strict limits on the use of ECT.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about electroconvulsive therapy.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, Nov. 1, 2004
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