The Comeback of Electroshock Therapy

Nebraska TV
Thursday 12/07/06

Electroshock Therapy, now called Electroconvulsive Therapy or ECT, a surge of electricity to the brain, is still being used to treat severe depression. NTV talked to one patient who says he wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for this controversial treatment.

“After my third suicide attempt, they mentioned ECT. It almost sounded like a last line of defense, said Kevin Karmazin, an ECT patient.

Kevin’s depression was serious. He was already on a cocktail of anti-depressants that wasn’t working.

“When I was manic I was out of control. I couldn’t sit still. I spent a lot of money and would often stay up for days in a row,” said Karmazin.

He says the pills created many adverse side effects.

“They just threw all this medicine at me. You didn’t know what side effect was caused by which pill,” said Karmazin.

But all that changed when he went through ECT.

“I was super nervous. But the next thing I remember, I’m waking up, and I’m like, ‘Are we done already?’ said Karmazin. “I felt refreshed and rejuvenated afterward … It’s been an all-good experience for me.”

Although Kevin has experienced some memory loss, a side-effect of ECT, he says it is worth it.

“If I would have known how much it would help me, I would have done it a long time ago,” said Karmazin.

Kevin’s story is not unique. Doctors are now saying that anti-depressants may not be as effective for serious depression. Patients may want to consider ECT.

“Any medication, the data shows, is not quite as good as ECT,” said Dr. Jasung Kim, a Psychiatrist M.D. at Bryan LGH Medical Center in Lincoln.

In fact, Kim says ECT may work better than traditional methods.

“It’s a more potent way to stimulate the brain, period. No medication can compete with ECT, that’s reality,” said Dr. Kim.

“I thank God they thought of doing this to me. I don’t know what else they could have done.”

It’s important to note that ECT is not right for everybody. Doctors say it is used as a last resort for serious depression. Some doctors will not even consider ECT, saying it is too invasive.

Comments (1)

Cassie SyDecember 14th, 2007 at 11:16 am

I received ECT treatments back in September and October of this year. I have had suicidal ideation for nearly six years, and I learned to live with it. I attempted suicide twice back in 2001. Now I am slowly coming out of the fog of depression. I have occasional crying spells, and less frequent thoughts of suicide. Overall, I feel more alive than I ever have since I was diagnosed with Schizo-affective disorder. I feel as though my senses have become more in tuned with nature and heightened.

I have quit smoking during this time, and I am thankful I have lost the memory of the first two or three weeks without cigarettes. Maybe ECT’s could be used to help people quit smoking?

If I ever get so deep in depression again, I will definitely go back to Dr. Kim for another round of ECT’s.

I feel so much relief from my depression, but will probably always have to stay on ant-depressants. I don’t think ECT’s have cured my depression, but I believe it has lessened a big portion of my symptoms.

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