Electroshock therapy and other treatments for depression
If medications could not relieve the symptoms of depression, then the doctor will advise using other treatments. For example, in acute depression resistant to the main methods of treatment, electroconvulsive therapy or stimulation of the vagus nerve is prescribed. In electroshock therapy, an electric charge passes through the skull into the brain, causing a convulsive effect. During stimulation of the vagus nerve, a device that stimulates the vagus nerve is used, which alleviates the state of depression. In milder forms of depression, it is also possible to use the treatment with the help of yoga or hypnosis.
What is electroshock therapy?
Electroshock treatment is one of the most effective and safe treatments for depression. With this method of treatment, electrodes are put on the patient’s skull, through which a controlled electric charge is passed. This charge causes a slight cramp effect in the brain. This is the fastest way to treat patients with severe depression, high suicide risk, diagnosed with manic behavior, or with other mental illnesses.
Electroshock therapy is used in cases where traditional methods of treatment do not alleviate the state of depression. Or in those cases where there is a high risk that the patient will cause physical damage to himself or other people and there is no time to wait for the drugs to take effect.
Although electroconvulsive therapy was widely used back in the 40s and 50s, society still does not fully understand its essence. Most of the side effects after this treatment are due to improper use of equipment, incorrect management of the process, or due to insufficient staff qualifications. There is also an opinion that electroshock therapy is a “quick fix”, instead of prolonged hospitalization and medication. It is also a mistake to think that in this way depression is “knocked out” from the patient’s brain. Negative reviews in the press and on television provoked heated debate over this treatment method.
How are electroconvulsive therapy sessions conducted?
Before the procedure, the patient is given a muscle relaxant and general anesthesia is performed. The electrodes are placed on the patient’s skull and an electric charge is passed through them, which is controlled by specialists. This charge causes a convulsive effect in the brain.
Since the muscles are relaxed, the physical manifestation of cramps manifest in the form of a slight shaking with the legs or hands. During the procedure, the patient is under constant medical supervision. The patient wakes up a minute later, remembers nothing about the procedure itself and feels a little embarrassed. The confusion lasts only a few minutes.
If the doctor prescribed shock therapy as a treatment, the sessions are held three times a week for a month.
In what situations is it better to use shock therapy?
According to the regulations of the American Psychiatric Association, electroconvulsive therapy should be used in the following cases:
- when you need a quick and effective result, for example, during pregnancy
- when the patient refuses to eat, which leads to exhaustion
- when the patient’s condition does not improve after taking antidepressants
- when a patient cannot take antidepressants for reasons related to another physical disease
- when the patient is in a catatonic stupor
- when depression is accompanied by a manifestation of psychopathic traits
- in the treatment of bipolar disorder
- in the treatment of manic behavior
- in the treatment of patients at risk of committing suicide
- in the treatment of patients who have already had electroconvulsive therapy, and she gave a good result
- in the treatment of atypical depression
- in the treatment of acute depression
- in the treatment of schizophrenia
What is the stimulation of the vagus nerve (SC)?
The device for stimulating the vagus nerve was approved by the Commission on the control of drugs and nutrients for use in adult patients with prolonged depression or its recurrence. Most of these patients take 10 tablets at a time and at the same time, they continue to suffer from depression.
A small stimulator is implanted in the patient on the wrist and through the skin gets to the vagus nerve in the spinal cord. The device produces electrical impulses to stimulate the brain.
What is transcranial magnetic stimulation?
The US Drug and Nutrient Control Commission has approved the use of this type of therapy to treat those patients who are not affected by one of the antidepressants.
Unlike electroconvulsive therapy, where the treatment is performed using an electric charge, TMS creates a magnetic field that generates a weak electric charge that affects a certain area of the brain, and at the same time does not cause a convulsive effect or loss of consciousness.
TMS is used to treat a mild form of depression, or when one type of antidepressant, but not two or three, gave no effect. Unlike electroconvulsive therapy, TMS does not require prior muscle relaxation and is performed at the clinic.
TMS sessions are held three to four times a week for a month.
Are there alternative treatments for depression?
In some cases, when traditional methods of treatment have failed, alternative treatment can bring relief. Many of the alternative treatment methods were resolved in modern medical practice, most of them are still not well understood, which makes it impossible to assert their carelessness and effectiveness.
However, in spite of whether alternative treatments have been studied or not, they are widely used in daily life to maintain a good body condition. These methods include acupuncture, the representation of different images for the purpose of relaxation, manual therapy, yoga, hypnosis, continuous monitoring of the patient using electronic means, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal therapy and massage.
We can say that the use of alternative methods of treatment is worth in mild forms of depression, but in no case in case of acute and clinical depression.
Are there any experimental treatments?
Experimental methods of treatment are not included in the daily practice of physicians. The carelessness and effectiveness of these treatments are not yet fully understood.
Those depression treatments that have been investigated include:
- Hormone replacement therapy for women: Depression affects women twice as often as men. Mood swings caused by premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, childbirth, and menopause are caused by a sudden increase in the amount of hormones in the body. Today, hormone replacement therapy is widely used during menopause, in order to alleviate symptoms such as sweating during sleep and sudden rush of blood. This method is also effective in preventing osteoporosis. However, the use of this method for the treatment of depression has not been studied. Be sure to consult your doctor before applying this method of treatment, especially if you have already had bouts of depression in the past.
Can depression resume if treatment is stopped?
Even if electroconvulsive therapy, vagal nerve stimulation, or other methods of treatment have given good results, depression may resume. To prevent the reappearance of depression can psychotherapy or prolonged use of antidepressants. Psychotherapy helps in this, by changing the perception of depression and behavior during this illness. If you feel re-manifestation of the symptoms of the disease, do not hesitate and seek the help of a doctor.
What prospects does the patient have?
Depressed people who seek treatment have good prospects for the future. Cooperating with a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist, you will get a chance to regain control of life.