Comments by Sarah Price Hancock

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  • The problem is ECT is completely unregulated. Those few who are not seriously damaged by it are able to advocate for it, but those whose lives are destroyed by it rarely have the cognitive capacity to fight for and be vocal about the depths of its destruction.

    Gratefully there are psychiatrists coming forward to denounce this barbaric treatment. At the very least, ECT needs to be completely regulated so that those few providers who know how to do the least amount of damage can establish regulatory practices (ideally including pre&post neuropsych assessments and functional MRI scans) which can move towards ensuring that those who choose to receive it will have less of a traumatic brain injury than what is currently possible (note I did not say, avoid traumatic brain injury).

    I think we need to evaluate the cost benefit analysis more thoroughly. What quality of life is available to the person after ECT? Currently there are no available rehabilitation practices for People who have experienced ECT even though it is in essense the same as a medically induced acquired traumatic brain injury.

    The interesting thing about all positive research available regarding ECT is that it was conducted by the providers of the treatment and people were evaluated immediately after ECT or within the first 2-4 months, when the person was still recovering from the administration of ECT.

    Conversely all of the research which touches on negative aspects of ECT is conducted by third-party researchers without connection to treatment decisions.

    This, by it’s very nature creates bias. How can a person answer questions about whether a treatment has worked appropriately when they know that if they say their symptoms have not improved, they can easily be subjected to further treatments.

    Additionally, because the positive research was gathered within weeks of treatment, many of the responders have not healed enough to return to work or accurately assess how ECT has impacted their life. Negative data from third-party researchers is gathered 6-18+ months after treatment–leading me to conclude the people participating have had more time to determine how their life was impacted by ECT.

    Additionally, there are no neuropsych evaluations or neurological images to establish a cognitive baseline of the person, nor is there one done after treatment to accurately understand ECT’s impact cognitive processing, memory loss or executive functioning. Any deficits which the patient experiences are ascribed to the symptoms of their illness, not side effects of the illness.

    Compounding the problem is the bizzare reality that ECT is unregulated. So we can NEVER compare what one person experiences to what another person with a different doctor, different machine, different electrode placement, different seizure duration, different seizure threshold, different spacing between treatments, etc experiences. It would be more accurate to compare apples to oranges…

    More akin to comparing apples to tomatos…they’re both classified as fruit!!

    Because there is no rehabilitation after ECT, I had to devise my own way to overcome cognitive deficits & memory loss caused by more than 100 ECT treatments. I detail my loss and the efforts I’ve tried to implement in my life in a 5 minute Ignite conference presentation.

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