Not the Only Psychiatrist Who Opposes ECT
by Dr. Peter Breggin—The FDA is proposing to move ECT from the high risk category to the medium risk category to avoid the necessity of any testing for safety or efficacy. As a result, ECT would be grandfathered into continued use without ever being tested. This would place ECT in the same category as syringes which no longer need proof of safety or efficacy. The FDA hearings will be held January 27-28, 2011, and I hope some of my more courageous colleagues will attend and testify against approving ECT without testing.
ECT causes closed head injury by means of electrically-induced seizures. There can be no doubt that the treatment causes trauma to the brain. The patient is comatose for several minutes in the recovery room and after a few treatments becomes confused and disoriented. A recent study confirms long-term memory loss and other cognitive deficits, which by definition is dementia. As I review in Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (2008, pp. 237-241), large animal studies have shown brain cell death using ECT dosages less than those routinely inflicted today. My website has a very extensive ECT bibliography that can be downloaded for free. It includes a variety of the original large animal ECT research projects.