The new study compared electroconvulsive therapy with low standard amplitude for the treatment of suicidal thoughts and found that early suicidal thoughts were relieved without interfering with cognitive or memory function.
In 2017, there were more than 47,000 suicides in the US, twice as many as those reported. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US and the second most common cause of death in people between the ages of 10 and 34 years.
One of the treatments available for the idea of acute suicide – which involves “thinking, planning or considering suicide” – is electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy.
However, there is considerable stigma about the use of ECT in suicidal thoughts, despite the fact that experts officially recognize it as a valid form of treatment, and research shows it is very effective in treating depression.
Another reason why people often see ECT with suspicion is that they have concerns about the side effects they might have in perception and memory.
However, new research shows that reducing the ECT amplitude can help avoid these side effects and make ECT effective in treating acute suicidal thoughts.
The main researcher of this new study is Dr. med. Nagy A. Youssef, a psychiatrist specializing in ECT in the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the University of Augusta.
In the past, Dr. Youssef and his colleagues completed their first small study in 22 people with depression or psychosis who were resistant to treatment. They used ECT with low amplitude to examine the participants and found that it reduced their depression while having minimal cognitive effects.
How ETE Affects Low Suicidal Thoughts
Before ECT, someone was put to sleep under general anesthesia and with a muscle relaxant.
After placing the electrodes in a specific area of the scalp, a short pulse stimulates their brain while they sleep. This stimulation causes a short spasm that lasts about one minute.
The new study, published in Brain Sciences Journal, is a randomized pilot study of seven people who suffered from severe depression and bipolar depression. Three of the participants received a low ECT gain (500 milliamperes) while the researchers gave four other participants a standard score of 900 milliamperes.
Those who received low ATE reported fewer suicidal thoughts than those in the third care unit. In comparison, the standard reinforcement group reported that it felt better after an average of four sessions.
Significantly, participants in the low-income study woke up within a few minutes of treatment, while participants in the standard group woke up after 15 minutes. The time people need to wake up is a reliable indicator of the possible cognitive side effects of treatment.
The researchers found no side effects on knowledge or memory in groups with low strength. Low-level participants reported greater assistance than suicidal thoughts than those in the standard reinforcement group.
To compare groups, Dr. Youssef and the team’s suicide questionnaire at the beginning and after treatment. The results of the low profit group increased by an average of 5.1 points compared to an average increase of 3 points in the standard group.
Dr. Youssef explained that brain depression centers are more the surface of the brain’s memory, so avoiding higher amplitude is a good strategy to damage depression so that it is in harmony without memory.
In addition, installing electrodes on both sides of the brain increases the risk of memory damage. However, in this study, scientists only placed electrodes on one side of the brain – the right side – which could explain the lack of cognitive side effects.
According to Dr. Youssef is located on the left side of the brain in most areas of the brain where speech and writing associations exist. Because of this, scientists have applied ECT on the opposite side. In rare cases, when people have these language centers on the right side of the brain, scientists can do therapy on the left side.
In the future, the researchers plan a multi-center study that compares the two approaches in the larger group and provides long-term clinical follow-up.