ECT in Sweden doubles in last five years

Shock rise in electric treatment

Published: 21st August 2006
The Local

The use of electric shocks in psychiatric treatment has more than doubled in the last five years in Sweden.

In 2000 around 18,000 electric shock treatments were administered in Sweden, according to statistics presented by Swedish Radio. Five years later that figure is 40,000.

Electric shock therapy began to be used during the 1930s. Today the method is used primarily on patients who are psychotic, or suffering from deep depression and abnormal mood swings, and when medicine or therapy have failed to have any effect.

Håkan Odeberg, a psychiatric consultant at the Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, supports the method.

“In cases where the patient is severely depressed and you have already tried many other forms of treatment, electric shock therapy can have an almost miraculous effect,” he told Svenska Dagbladet.

However, Kjell Broström from the National Association for Social and Mental Health, is not convinced. He told SvD that some patients experience terrible memory loss and that the treatment’s effects can be short-lived.

Comments (9)

PatAugust 25th, 2006 at 3:41 pm

I have been depressed and fatigued and anxious to varying degrees and for multiple reasons. I came from family that was depressed and unable to cope with it. I grew up in a dysfunctional family to some degree; it was not always that way. I have struggled to survive and have taken a lot of different medicines and had way too many therapists to share, but they all have said that I am a sane, logical, intelligent person with great perception. Honestly I think that is true, but i can’t see myself and my life too clearly sometimes. I have no confidence and suffer with feelings of isoloation. Too much information? My doctor (psychiatrist) is talking about EST. I would welcome it with open arms if I was reasonably sure it would work. What are the statistics in U.S.? Who can give me some really good advice? I also have fibromyalgia and chronic Fatigue Syndrome which seem to be about the same thing. Thank you. I need some help.

CEAugust 31st, 2006 at 10:29 pm

I have had depression for more than 3years, i have tried many different medications for about 6months. Iv also had counselling during that time and nothing helps at all.. The medication made me sick and made me feel worse.. Counselling made me more angrier and agitated.. i really dont have any more patience to try any more therapies or medications, i have had enough of people telling me to be patience and just wait and try harder… i have tried, iv done all i could and now im so sick of the way i feel all the time that sometimes im ready to end it all… everyone says oh no ECT is not for you.. but i think it is… its worth trying… can you please give me some information about ECT? and if i can do it? thank you

JuliSeptember 1st, 2006 at 12:01 am

Hi Pat and CE,

There’s really no answer on whether or not ECT is for you. It’s got to be your choice, but based on getting as much information as you can.

The one thing I like to point out to people is that ECT is not a cure for depression. It can help relieve it for some, but it’s almost always temporary. The relapse rate with ECT is exceptionally high.

On the other hand, you’ll find people who say ECT saved their lives and the negative side effects and the fact that they have to have more and more ECT is worth it, because nothing else helped.

In the end, it’s kind of a roll of the dice. You have to decide if you like the odds.

I wish I could be more definitive, but I can’t. I wish you the best of luck in making a decision and a good outcome, no matter what you decide to do.

You might want to consider going to the message boards and talking with others who have had ECT. You’ll find good and bad experiences.


TomasSeptember 17th, 2006 at 3:07 pm

First of all, you may want to consider making sure you are not suffering any verifiable physical ailments which may cause depression, such as vitamin (e.g. B12) or mineral deficiencies (e.g. magnesium), thyroid dysfunction or diabetes. Second, you may want to try adding supplements, especially omega-3 fats, of which fish oil is rich. Third, you may want to try interpersonal therapy and/or cognitive behavior therapy, the effectiveness of both of which is supported by data.

leslieNovember 6th, 2007 at 2:25 pm

I had 6 ect treatments in 1995. Now I’m having some visual problems and had an MRI that shows brain lesions. Is there any relationship between the two?

Rex SmithJanuary 25th, 2008 at 8:21 am

Of course short term memory loss is involved as the individual receiving ECT is processing concepts of inadequacy that keep the depresion active. ECT provides a temporary electrical balance which is then gradually negated by the individual going back to old concepts of blame of self etc.
A future system of some form of minor electrical stymulus to keep the balance, combined with therapeutic suggestion to the individual encouraging more healthy ideas of well-being will be the ticket into an age of relative lack of self-deprecation.

MauffréJune 12th, 2008 at 3:19 am


Sorry for not speaking very well English. i am a french woman living in Paris. In february 2006, my mother, 68 years old, had suddlenly psychiatric troubles. The psychiatr told us that the only chance she had, was the ECT. She dieded 72 hours after… be carefull with ECT !

RosieJune 23rd, 2010 at 4:35 am

My Mother received electric shock treatments most of her adult life. She would complain she found the treatment caused memory loss and was also upsetting. She was also given very, very strong drugs that caused tremors (tardive dyskonesia) and left her sluggish, very overweight, and unable to function properly. Yet the drugs did not stop her symptoms of schizophrenia.
She died at the early age of 66 (her own Mother did not die until she was 94) of a brain tumour. I would like to know could the many years of ECT and strong drugs given to her have caused this tumour?
I feel her medical treatment destroyed her life- not just her illness.

KatarinaAugust 10th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

I get frightened reading the first comment. The root cause of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue is often undiagnosed hypothyroidism that does not show up in blood tests. TSH levels can be within the normal for years meanwhile symptoms are present, and the patient goes undiagnoses with severe depression, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. Check out Dr. Lowe’s website. Or buy the book “the great thyroid scandal and how to survive it” by Dr. Barry Peatfield.

Leave a comment

Your comment:

Subscribe without commenting