A shock to the system: Electroconvulsive Therapy shows mood disorder-specific therapeutic benefits
PostedJanuary 31, 2014
The oldest well-established procedure for somatic treatment of unipolar and bipolar disorders, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has, at best, a variegated reputation – and not just in its reputation for being a “barbaric” treatment modality (which, as it turns out, it is not). The scientific, clinical, and ethical controversy extends to unanswered questions about its precise mechanism of action – that is, how major electrical discharge over half the brain shows efficacy in recovery from a range of sometimes quite distinct psychological and psychiatric disorders. Recently, however, scientists at Université de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland and Charité University Medicine, Berlin, Germany found local but notgeneral anatomical brain changes following electroconvulsive therapy that are differently distributed in each disease, and are actually the areas believed to be abnormal in each disorder. Since interaction between ECT and specific pathology appears to be therapeutically causal, the researchers state that their results have implications for deep brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation and other electrically-based brain treatments.