ECT depression therapy should be suspended, study suggests

“The use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat depression should be immediately suspended, a study says”

Mark Easton reports for the BBC:

“ECT involves passing electric currents through a patient’s brain to cause seizures or fits.

Dr John Read, of the University of East London said there was ‘no place’ for ECT in evidence-based medicine due to risks of brain damage.

But the Royal College of Psychiatrists said ECT offers ‘life-saving treatment’ and should continue in severe cases.

At least 1,600 patients were given ECT in the UK and Ireland in 2017, according to psychiatrists.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) currently recommends the use of ECT for some cases of moderate or severe depression as well as catatonia and mania.

However, peer-reviewed research published in the journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry concludes ‘the high risk of permanent memory loss and the small mortality risk means that its use should be immediately suspended’.

NICE says their guidance for ECT was last reviewed in 2014 but it would look at it again if new evidence was likely to affect their recommendations.

The study’s lead author, Dr Read, a professor of clinical psychology, describes previous research justifying the use of ECT in the UK and around the world as ‘the lowest quality of any I have seen in my 40-year career’.

The paper concedes that ‘the severity and significance of the brain damage and memory loss (following ECT) is rarely studied’ …”

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