Electric shock therapy outrage

Worcester News
Sept. 14, 2006

MENTAL health care patients in Worcestershire are given nearly 700 electric shock treatments a year, new figures have revealed.

According to the statistics, the controversial electroconvulsive therapy has been administered 3,400 times in Worcestershire since 2001 – more than any of the 27 health trusts nationwide that have provided figures apart from Leicestershire.

The therapy involves electrodes being attached to the head and an electric current being passed briefly though the electrodes to the brain, causing a seizure.

Surveys by the medical profession have highlighted serious long-term side-effects of the treatment – including brain damage, memory loss and intellectual impairment, while human rights campaigners have branded it “cruel and barbaric” and say it should only be given as a last resort.

But mental health care bosses say the figure equates to just 125 patients treated per year from a Worcestershire population of half a million.

The figures were obtained from the Worcestershire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust by the Citizens Commission On Human Rights (CCHR) under the Freedom Of Information Act. Commission spokesman Chris Wrapson described them as “extraordinary”.

He said: “Psychiatrists cloak shock treatment in medical legitimacy, the effects of which are horrific, and the full ramifications are not explained to the patients or families, The brutality of ECT shows psychiatry has not advanced beyond the cruelty and barbarism of its earliest treatment.”

A survey by the Royal College of Psychiatrists proved patients treated with electric shock therapy can suffer memory loss as a result.

Of the 1,344 psychiatrists surveyed, 21 per cent referred to long-term side from page one effects and risks of brain damage, memory loss and intellectual impairment.

GPs reported that 34 per cent of patients seen in the months after receiving electroconvulsive therapy were poor or worse.

But a spokesman for Worcestershire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust said: “The figure quoted by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of 3,400 relates to approximately 680 administrations per year.

“Most administrations would have been given in batches of six per course of treatment, therefore, the figures relate to approximately 125 people being treated per year from a population of 542,107 in 2001 and a population of 555,832 in 2005.

“Each community mental health team has a caseload of 300 to 500 people at any time. Across the whole county that would be a figure in excess of 10,000 people being seen during that year, therefore, this equates to approximately one per cent or less of the people being treated.”

She added that the trust ensures that the therapy is carried out in accordance with the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidance.

Comments (11)

TomasSeptember 17th, 2006 at 2:53 pm

And in Sweden, with a population of about 9 million, 40000 shocks were dealt in 2005. Now that is even worse barbarism.

SueSeptember 19th, 2006 at 7:08 am

I can feel another foi request coming on. What makes me angry is the way these spokespeople try and make the figures sound small. A trust with a catchment population of half a million should have about 2,000 admissions a year – I don’t know what the figure of 10,000 refers to. I shall have to ask. So they are probably giving ECT to about 5 per cent of people admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Actually that sounds about average for England. ECT always used to be associated with large regional differences. I wonder if the differences are getting less?

Ellen PellantOctober 15th, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Just very interested. Doing a research paper for college. Thanks

kimberly m. c.January 26th, 2009 at 5:12 am

i have hated having ect. i have a very bad memory and have to take meds for it. i feel worse and i am a little “stupider”. the one thing that the dr said it would erase, it didnt. if i had to do over again….i wouldnt. i dont recomend it to anyone. and because of the ects i can no longer work.

Mary AFebruary 6th, 2009 at 5:13 pm

I had ect about 15 years ago. All I can say is that it saved my life. Yes, I do have memory loss, but I only lost a year or so. I’m alive today, I have a wonderful marriage, three lovely daughter, and a set of 18 month old twin grand babies. As far as working again, you will, something I found helpful was mind exercises. You have to want to get better.

Kim AllenApril 19th, 2010 at 1:36 am

My husband had ect treatment a few years back. He has had no long term problems with it. I wish he would get them again because none of the medications they gave him or are giving him worked as well. He has had no memory loss because of them.

Beverly HarrisJuly 11th, 2010 at 1:46 am

My husband had ect treatments in 1989. He was in crisis after seeing his brother get run over by a semi. He spent 2 weeks in the hospital, getting ten ect treatments. He was feeling better and was set to come home the next day. His doctor left on vacation, and left him in the care of another doctor who did 4 more treatments in the next 2 days. My husband spent the next 6 months unable to remember his name, my name, where he lived, or anything else for more than a few hours at a time. It’s now 2010. He has a hard time leaving the house, is extremely paranoid. He believes people are all talking about him all of the time. He’s forgotten his higher education completely, can’t make heads or tails of the text books he used. He’s not been able to work, and has trouble just making it through the day. Multi-tasking is impossible for him. If I explain something clearly, he can sometimes complete a task. It causes him great anxiety to do simple things like taking out the trash or shaving, or even sitting on the patio on a nice day.
I won’t say don’t ever consider having this done to you, but be certain that there are controls in place and that the clinic is not just out to get your insurance money.

lesley watsonAugust 10th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

I had ect treatment back in 1989 after a very traumatic time giving birth to my first child. It was used as a last resort as no medication on the market would bring me down . For three and a half weeks I was affected by my trauma not sleeping and on the go 24 7 . Ect saved my life . I then had many a break down and each time they used ect treatment as medication had no effect on me, It sounds barbaric but i have never suffered from memory loss far from it i have a memory like an elephant !

lesley watsonAugust 10th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

can i also say the mind is a very powerful computer and i believe that if you have a possitive attitude that this will help you then IT WILL !

vanessa reynoldsOctober 9th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Wow! There seems to be so many ideas towards ECT,s. I had 6 sessions in 2008 and I suffer everyday picking pieces of my life I can’t remember.
Some people might be very blessed and have no effects but I wasn’t so lucky. I couldn’t remember my husband, my kids even my new baby.
Please if your out there and is considering this its your choice. Personally I wouldn’t advice it. Ever! NO to ECT!

CindiJuly 20th, 2011 at 4:25 am

My husband had ECT in the 1970s. When he was a teenager he was having hallucinations from some kind of recreational drug. He was high for more than 24 hours and his parents were very worried about him. They took him to the hospital and he was admitted to the psych ward where they administered shock treatment. My husband has a very high IQ and is well read, remembers every detail of everything he hears and reads. The problem is that he is very, very slow to answer questions, to do any task etc. As an example, if my husband is weeding the garden — he will pick a weed or two and then stand there and look like a zombie for a few minutes and then pick another weed or two. When we are out grocery shopping he will stop in the middle of a door way and just stand there — it is very sad because people just stop and stare at him.

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