If Drugging Children Wasn’t Bad Enough, Now Psychiatrists Want to Shock Them

Coloradans joined concerned citizens from around the nation on May 14 in a march organized by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to protest the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) recent push to get the FDA to approve electroshock (ECT) for children and to get electroshock devices reclassified into the same category of risk as electric wheelchairs and hearing aids.

ECT shoots as much as 460 volts of electricity through the brain in order to produce a seizure.  Every year 100,000 Americans are electroshocked, even though no one has ever been able to explain exactly how this barbaric practice “works” as mental health treatment.  In fact, neither the effectiveness nor the safety of ECT devices has ever been clinically proven, and never will be if the APA gets its way.

Childhood

The APA is pushing for ECT to be given to children who are “treatment resistant” to psychiatric drugs.  Eight million American children are on psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs – one million of them as young as 0-5 years old.  Many of them will get worse and will be labeled “treatment resistant,” instead of the treatment itself being labeled harmful and ineffective.

ECT is already a $1.2 billion a year industry.  If the APA gets its way, that industry will be growing by shocking the still-developing brains of children and subjecting their young bodies to convulsions.

The protest march is an annual event of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), timed to deliver a strong message of opposition to harmful psychiatric practices when psychiatrists attend the APA annual conference, this year in Atlanta. Click here to read CCHR International’s press release on this year’s march.

Electroshock Devices Will Never Have To Prove Safe Or Effective Under Proposed FDA Rule

You would think a machine that shoots electricity into a person’s brain would have to be proven safe and effective and be approved by the FDA before it could be used.  You’d be wrong.

No formal tests have ever been conducted or required by the FDA to determine the safety of the devices used to deliver electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), more commonly known as “shock treatment.”

Now the FDA is proposing a rule that would lower the classification of shock machines to a less dangerous class without any proof ever having been provided that the device, or the treatment given with the device, is either safe or effective.ECT1

ECT sends an electrical shock into a person’s brain in order to produce a seizure.  No one has ever explained exactly how this “works” as a mental health treatment.

Worse still, there is no federal or state regulation of ECT protocols for using ECT machines, or for who can use ECT devices, or for which patients should or should not be “treated.”

A little history: In 1976, Congress enacted legislation giving the FDA authority to regulate medical devices.  However, ECT equipment was grandfathered in, exempting it and allowing it to continue to be used without FDA testing.

In 1979, the FDA classified ECT machines as experimental Class III medical devices, a class of devices that must typically be approved by the FDA before they are marketed.   According to the FDA, “Class III devices are generally the highest risk devices and are therefore subject to the highest level of regulatory control.”

But due to the grandfathering in 1976, the FDA still has never tested ECT devices to see whether they are safe or effective.

Shocking Your Brain = Wearing a Condom

The FDA is now attempting to reclassify ECT machines as less dangerous Class II devices, a class that includes wheelchairs, acupuncture needles, and condoms.  Yes, condoms.

In fact, there has long been documented evidence of the damage ECT devices and shock treatment can cause, including prolonged or permanent memory loss and other physical damage.

A top ECT researcher, Harold Sackeim of Columbia University, conducted the first large-scale, prospective long-term study of cognitive function following ECT treatment.  His study, reported in the January 2007 issue of the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, concluded that “adverse cognitive effects can persist for an extended period, and that they characterize routine treatment with ECT in community settings.”ECT2

Beyond the damage to memory and other mental functions, the FDA itself has determined that ECT devices and procedures are associated with a long list of health risks, including:

  • Prolonged seizures
  • Physical injury to the body and dental fractures from the violent convulsions
  • Heart attack, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, and stroke
  • Breathing complications from the drugs used to sedate the person or from the person inhaling his vomit
  • Skin burns from excessive electrical current or faulty electrodes
  • Worsening of psychiatric symptoms when ECT treatment is ineffective
  • Mania
  • Death

Tell the FDA to require ECT machines to undergo stringent testing to prove whether the devices and the treatment given with the devices are both safe and effective, instead of reclassifying them with devices no more dangerous than wheelchairs and condoms.

To send a comment to the FDA, click here.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by shock treatment, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.  We welcome your comments below.