Shock therapy: A look into some myths and facts

Shock therapy: A look into some myths and facts

Shock therapy, scientifically known as Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), is a form of brain stimulation psychiatric treatment which stimulates the brain by applying brief electrical pulses of varying intensity in order to treat serious mental disorders. During ECT therapy, a brief application of electric stimulus is used to induce seizures in order to provide relief from psychiatric illnesses. This type of therapy is typically contemplated for treating severe, treatment-resistant depression, or if the patient’s illness is not showing signs of improvement with other treatments such as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy. The treatment is also used to cure other mental disorders such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Regardless of the strong evidence of efficacy and safety about the shock therapy, there are many misconceptions that have raised concerns among patients as well as health care professionals. In fact, movies, such as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” have also had some hand in creating these stereotyped misconceptions about shock therapy. Some of the common myths and facts associated with ECT are:

Myth 1: Employed for depression only

Fact 1: A majority of people with depression are never prescribed shock therapy, unless they have treatment-resistant depression, or are not benefitted by medication and psychotherapy. This treatment can also be used to reduce mania in people with bipolar disorder. It can be used occasionally for individuals with schizophrenia, predominantly for those who are catatonic.

Myth 2: Causes memory loss

Fact 2: After the ECT procedure, some patients may experience short-term confusion or temporary forgetfulness, which is a common symptom caused by any kind of seizure or brain deficit. However, some elderly people may experience long-lasting symptoms, continuing for several weeks after the treatment.

Myth 3: Used in mental hospitals only

Fact 3: ECT treatment can be given at any hospital or psychiatric institution on an inpatient basis, and also on an outpatient basis for less severe cases. Generally, six to 12 sessions are given to patients over two to four weeks. In some patients, maintenance ECT is given every two weeks to every month, for up to several years to prevent relapse.

Myth 4: Causes seizures

Fact 4: ECT does not cause seizures, but a person is given a seizure-inducing electrical shock during ECT procedure, which can alleviate his or her depression. In fact, ECT reboots the brain, thereby restoring some of the neuro connections, as well as reconnecting the nerves. It can also alter the levels of norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin in the brain.

Myth 5: Shocks are given without the patient’s consent

Fact 5: ECT is always given after obtaining a written consent from the patient. Moreover, the doctor discusses the pros and cons of the treatment with the patient, as well as his or her family, before proceeding.

Myth 6: Can lead to breaking of bones and tooth chipping

Fact 6: Doctors nowadays perform this treatment by administering anesthetic and muscle relaxants in order to prevent the patients from moving violently, which can lead to injuries. This prevents issues such as chipped teeth and fractures.

Mental illness can be treated

Any kind of mental illness can be treated with the proper guidance of physicians and psychotherapists. While the medications and behavioral therapy are the first line of treatment, the severe and treatment- resistant mental illness may require brain stimulation therapy such as ECT.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any kind of mental problems, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, etc., get in touch with the California Mental Health Helpline for information on the best mental health facilities in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online for advice regarding various mental health centers in California.

Risk of mental illness excessively high among the HIV-positive

Risk of mental illness excessively high among the HIV-positive

A lot of progress has been witnessed in the HIV/AIDS treatment domain in recent years. With the availability of lifesaving drugs, the disease has become comparatively less miserable. However, there is enough risk of developing associated illnesses, including mental health disorders, after being infected with the HIV virus.

As such, most of the HIV-positive people usually go through a phase of shock and grief when they are informed for the first time about the presence of the virus in their bodies. However, it’s only in the later phase of the disease that the patients come to know about their chances of developing mental illnesses due to the infection.

According to psychiatrists, mental illnesses can be common among people with AIDS, the rate of depression being as high as 60 percent compared to 5 to 10 percent in others.

Here are some mental illnesses that may occur along with HIV/AIDS.

1. Dementia

Dementia is a common co-occurrence with AIDS due to the viral infection of the brain. Usually, HIV-associated dementia causes cognitive problems, such as functional impairment and behavioral abnormalities. Overall, the cognitive disturbance starts with slowed thinking, which is followed by memory impairment, forgetting important things and difficulty in concentrating.

Such patients take a longer time in completing the normal activities. They may also require repeated readings to understand texts. With the passing of time, gross cognitive disturbances cause greater difficulty to patients in maintaining their financial affairs and other aspects of life.

2. Depression

It has been largely observed that HIV infection or AIDS can aggravate the symptoms of depression. Some medications for treating HIV such as efavirenz (Sustiva) can worsen one’s depression.

Additionally, drug use, low levels of testosterone, and deficiency of vitamin B6 or B12 can cause depression-related symptoms. Having both HIV and hepatitis B or C can worsen depression in a person, more so if he or she is being treated with Interferon.

Other risk factors for depression include:

  • History of mental illness, or alcohol and substance abuse, both personally and within the family
  • Lack of social support
  • Being discreet about one’s HIV condition
  • Treatment failure (HIV or other)

3. Anxiety

Anxiety is quite a prevalent symptom in HIV-positive patients due to constant worry and grief. The severe levels of anxiety symptoms can cause panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), etc.

Of the HIV-infected patients under medical care, as many as 20.3 percent have been found to display anxiety disorders, 12.3 percent were observed to suffer from panic disorder, 10.4 percent from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 2.8 percent from GAD. People with other psychiatric disorders such as adjustment disorders, psychosis, or substance use disorders, can also have significant levels of anxiety.

4. Bipolar disorder

Patients with HIV have an increased possibility of having bipolar disorder than the general population. Since HIV-infected patients are usually more vulnerable to mood swings, which are an inseparable part of bipolar disorder, the chances of developing the disorder increases.

Since the disorder often results in extreme decision-making, risky behavior and suicidal tendencies, it is necessary to treat it to enable better coping strategies among the HIV-positive patients. Bipolar disorder can be treated with psychotherapy and medication.

Mental illnesses can be treated

Although mental illnesses associated with HIV/AIDS are more critical in nature than other diseases, a number of treatment options are available for patients. Such patients with mental illnesses can be provided lifesaving treatment through supervised care.

If someone you know is suffering from AIDS and co-occurring mental illnesses, it is recommended to seek help from the California Mental Health Helpline staff immediately. You can also learn more about mental health centers in California by having an online chat. Alternatively, if you want to information on mental health rehabilitation centers in California, you can call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923.

An overview of major mental health events to be held in 2017

An overview of major mental health events to be held in 2017

Mental health includes an individual’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. Since it affects how a person thinks, feels, acts, handles stress, relates to others and makes choices, it is a prerequisite for the overall well-being of an individual at every stage of life. The fact that mentally healthy individuals are often able to form positive relationships, use their abilities to stretch their potential and deal with life’s difficulties, also proves the importance of staying mentally healthy.

Rising mental health problems among Americans

Americans have been grappling with mental disorders, such as major depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, etc., for a long time now. As per the 2014 survey by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), one in every five adults, or nearly 43.6 million adults aged 18 years or older suffered from mental disorders in 2014.

In order to increase awareness about various mental illnesses, people in the United States often participate in various outreach activities through the media, screenings and local events. These events are helpful in eradicating myths surrounding mental illnesses, educating the public about various treatment options, and extending support to the people affected by mental health problems or substance abuse. They are a result of collaborative efforts made by different people and organizations to fight the stigma associated with mental health.

Here is a list of some of the upcoming events for the year 2017 organized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

Mental Health Month (May 2017)

Mental Health Month also known as Mental Health Awareness Month is observed in the month of May each year. The campaign aims to reach mental health communities to spread awareness about mental disorders, increase the access to treatment and ensure that people are not alone in their struggle. During the event, various organizations come together to educate the public about mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc., through a number of activities based on the theme.

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 7-May 13, 2017)

During this week, an emphasis is laid on various mental health issues of children and the youth, such as cyber bullying, teen drug abuse and social media addiction. This event will bring the communities and organizations together to extend full support to children affected by various mental disorders.

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (July 2017)

Back in 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives nominated July as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to destigmatize mental illness, particularly among the African-Americans. Bebe Moore Campbell championed the cause of mental health problems among diverse communities in America.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month (September 2017)

The month of September has been designated as the “suicide prevention awareness month” and Sep. 10 is observed as the “world suicide prevention day.” The campaign primarily focuses on the issues relating to suicide prevention and also helps in promoting resources, spreading awareness and talking about suicide without intensifying the risk of harm.

Mental Illness Awareness Week (the first week of October 2017)

Mental Illness Awareness Week is celebrated every year during the first week of October to educate people about mental disorders. During the event, various organizations, as well as individuals, across the U.S. participate in activities, such as art/music events and educational sessions, to spread awareness about various mental illnesses.

Seeking professional help

Studies have shown that mental health problems are largely influenced by factors such as genetics, traumatic life experiences, problematic relationships, etc., which can lead to negative thinking, stress, depression, and in extreme situations even to suicide.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any kind of mental illness, contact the California Mental Health Helpline to get information about the best mental health treatment centers in California. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online for advice regarding the best mental health facilities in California.

Identifying warning signs of suicide

Identifying warning signs of suicide

According to a 2014 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), every 40 seconds, a person attempts to take his life, or commits suicide, in some part of the world. Suicide is the second leading cause of death, globally, occurring among the age group of 15-29 years, according to the WHO. On an average, about 112 people in America die from suicide each day. Thus, there has been an unprecedented increase in the suicide rate over the past several years. Read more

Bottlenecks in mental health services – Part 4: Impact of state regulations

Bottlenecks in mental health services – Part 4: Impact of state regulations

Mental health services have been an important component of medical care in the United States. The availability, costs and coverage of mental health services depend on various policy discussions and regulations. All the states across the U.S. have some type of law related to mental health services. The state laws can be divided into three categories: Read more