Saturday, 24 March 2012

New evidence regarding ECT

Mention ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) to most people and they are likely to imagine a scene out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with a patient being involuntarily strapped to a table and given a painful electric shock.

However, ECT is actually a humane and effective treatment for patients with mood disorders like severe depression, particularly in cases when alternative treatments have been ineffective.

Current techniques involve first anaesthestising the patient and then electrically inducing a seizure.

Whilst it has been used successfully in clinical practice for 70 years, until now it has not been well understood how or why it works. Prof Ian Reid and his team from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found that ECT changes the way different parts of the brain communicate. By comparing the brains of people before and after the treatment using brain imaging they showed that ECT reduces the strength of overactive connections between parts of the brain that control mood and those that control thinking/concentrating.

This finding could help improve diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and other disorders including schizophrenia, autism and dementia.

One of the possible side effects of ECT is memory loss. A neuropsychological assessment can be used in conjunction with ECT to monitor any changes in cognition. To find out more about our neuropsychological assessment services contact us.

No comments:

Post a Comment