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How is Electroconvulsive Therapy ECT used to treat depression To answer this question we must first answer these other questions What is electroconvulsive therapy When depression is diagnosed which patients are suitable for ECT and which for psychotherapy If not all depressed patients will respond to ECT how are we to identify those likely to benefit Invented by Cerletti and Bini in 1938 ECT was the first form of therapy that reliably reduced severe depression Abrams and Essman 1982 Electroconvulsive therapy is a technique for treating psychiatric patients in which seizures similar to those of epilepsy are induced by passing a current of electricity through the forehead Encarta 1995 Cerlitti started his experiments on dogs applying electrodes to the mouth and anus He did not want to try this experience on humans because half of the dogs being treated had died Bini discovered that the reason for the dogs deaths was that the current was traveling straight through to the heart It was then that he tried putting the electrodes on the two temples After this change no more dogs died and his first human patient was in April of 1938 Abrams and Essman 1982 Side effects included temporary memory loss and intellectual impairment with a slight risk of fractures and respiratory failure In recent years such as side effects have been reduced by a modified treatment involving a much lower current and sometimes a reduced number of sessions Groiler 1993 Normally the current is administered three times weekly for two to six weeks Fraser 1982 When ECT was first used patients frequently suffered fractures while having convulsions but muscle relaxant drugs are now routinely used to prevent such fractures Encarta 1995 For example in the book Undercurrents Martha Manning was given a shot of atropine which is used to dry secretions before many hospital procedures Through an IV Manning also received succinylcholine which immobilized her to prevent the breakage of bones and methohexital
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