Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In praise of 'electroshock'

What does it feel like to be profoundly depressed?

“Sometimes you feel like your head is going to explode,” Richard Braudo explains. “There were times I was so depressed, I was comatose. You can reach the point where you don't want to live – the pain is too much.”

Mr. Braudo knows. His diagnosis: treatment-resistant bipolar affective disorder.

The Toronto lawyer and management consultant has survived 30 bouts of severe depression, each lasting many months, not to mention a couple of suicide attempts.

But, at the age of 55, he has finally achieved “stable wellness.”

Mr. Braudo credits electroconvulsive therapy for his recovery. He has undergone 10 courses of ECT since 1991, the last about 18 months ago – the longest period, by far, in his adult life that he has gone without a bout of depression.

He has chosen to tell his story to help counter the negative public image of ECT as barbaric and painful and to underscore that prescription drugs are not the be-all and end-all for people with psychiatric illnesses.


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