No website dealing with mental and medical health issues would be complete without a section on the various means of treating disorders. In this Treatment and Intervention topic area, we deal broadly with modes of treatment, leaving more specific treatment descriptions (tailored to specific disorders) to specific disorder topic areas.
Treatment stratagies may be sorted into two gross categories: physical interventions (including medicine/drugs/herbs, surgery, and other 'hands-on' treatments such as massage), and mental interventions (including psychotherapy and hypnosis)
Information on different interventions is presented in various sub-topic centers of this parent-center. Please click on the links below to access these sub-topic centers.
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What are treatments and interventions that may be used?
- In this topic area, we deal broadly with modes of treatment, leaving more specific treatment descriptions (tailored to specific disorders) to specific disorder topic areas.
- Treatment stratagies may be sorted into two gross categories: physical interventions (including medicine/drugs/herbs, surgery, and other 'hands-on' treatments such as massage), and mental interventions (including psychotherapy and hypnosis).
What is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?
- Electroconvulsive therapy, also known as electroshock or ECT, is a type of psychiatric shock therapy involving the induction of an artificial seizure in a patient by passing electricity through the brain.
- ECT was first introduced as a treatment for schizophrenia in the 1930s, and quickly became adopted as a common treatment method for mood disorders—and as a dreaded mechanism for disciplining unruly psychiatric inpatients.
- Currently, in most countries, electroshock is administered under anaesthesia and muscle relaxants and continues to be used for the treatment of several, typically severe, psychiatric conditions, occupying a narrow but important niche in modern psychiatry.
- Currently ECT is mainly used to treat severe depression, particularly if complicated by psychosis. It is also used in cases of severe depression where antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, or both have proven ineffective. Or when medication cannot be taken, or when other treatments would be too slow (for example, in a person with delusional depression and intense, unremitting suicidal tendencies).
- It is also sometimes used to treat the manic phase of bipolar disorder and in the uncommon condition of catatonia.
- ECT should be administered under controlled conditions, with appropriate personnel (Rudorfer et al., 1997) and some mental health laws mandate this.
- The most common adverse effects are confusion and memory loss for events surrounding the period of ECT treatment. Some of the confusion and disorientation seen upon awakening after ECT clear soon after electroshock, although many patients report ongoing and debilitating problems.
What is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)?
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is the use of powerful rapidly changing magnetic fields to induce electric fields in the brain by electromagnetic induction without the need for surgery or external electrodes.
- TMS was designed as a brain mapping tool in the 1980s to be used combined with MRI and EEG.
- One reason TMS is important in neuroscience is that it can demonstrate causality. A noninvasive mapping technique such as fMRI allows researchers to see what regions of the brain are activated when a subject performs a certain task, but this is not proof that those regions are actually used for the task; it merely shows that the a region is associated with a task.
- TMS is currently under study as a treatment for severe depression, auditory hallucinations, migraine headaches and tinnitus.
- It is particularly interesting as it may provide a viable treatment to certain aspects of drug resistant mental illness, particularly as an alternative to electroconvulsive therapy.
- TMS is also under investigation for the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy.