ECT: “It’s My Life. Butt-Out!”

I am sick and tired of people who want to make decisions for others. The drama and carnage they concoct, as they stomp all over people’s feelings and rights…enough!

A healthy rant on a Sunday morning gets the blood pumping. But it’s my opinion and my right to express it.

Just as if I wanted to have electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). “Butt out!”

This is the final in a series on ECT. Part 1 got us started with an overview; including indications, risks, and side effects. Part 2 reviewed the procedure itself, with a video. Be sure to read them. Here are the links. Part 1 Part 2

FDA Gymnastics & Buttinskies

About a month ago, upon the recommendation of the American Psychiatric Association and others, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel considered lowering ECT’s risk classification from high to medium.

The panel advised that ECT’s high-risk classification should stay put.

If the FDA goes along with the recommendation (as it typically does), manufacturers of ECT devices may have to provide the FDA with supplemental safety and efficacy information – just like Big Pharma must with prescription meds. ECT device manufacturers haven’t had to do that because of a grandfather clause.

Problem is, the two small ECT device manufacturers in the U.S. don’t have Big Pharma’s money, and likely will not have the resources to deliver the goods.

Bottom-line: If the FDA concurs with the advisory panel’s recommendation in a year or so, ECT may be a thing of the past – at least in the US of A. And that means the 100,000 Americans who turn to it yearly will continue to suffer horribly. Some will die.

One of the patient advocacy groups pressing for maintaining the high-risk classification is Disability Rights of New Mexico. According to their website (click here to check it out)…

“The mission of Disability Rights New Mexico (DRNM) is to protect, promote and expand the legal and civil rights of persons with disabilities. DRNM is an independent, private nonprofit agency operating federally mandated and other advocacy programs in pursuit of this mission.”


Now, DRNM is likely well-intentioned. However, you can’t convince me that there aren’t a variety of agendas at work behind the scenes. And I’m sure those on the other side of the fence have hidden agendas as well.

But the way I see it, it’s time for organizations to get out of the way when it comes to individuals seeking relief for extraordinarily painful and hope-crushing circumstances.

By the way, it generally takes the FDA 10 years to approve a medication. How long will those in pain have to wait should the FDA gum-up the use of ECT?

“It’s My Life. Butt-Out!”

I am not naive. Yes, I’m aware that ECT poses great risks – some of which are likely still unknown. But isn’t it the same with any of the medications we take for emotional and mental health disorders?

You name them – amitriptyline (Elavil), fluoxetine (Prozac), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), bupropion (Wellbutrin/Zyban), aripiprazole (Abilify), alprazolam (Xanax) – taking them is risky business.

And just like ECT, no one really knows why they work.

Heck, it’s the same for drugs we take for situations such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes!

But in the midst of hell, people have the right to do their due diligence, hold discussions with family members, significant others, and health care professionals – and make their own decisions regarding relief.

I have assessed many individuals self-admitting to a psychiatric facility for an ECT procedure the next day. How heart-wrenching to observe their emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical devastation.

And then there’s the significant other(s) who often accompanies. He or she also suffers terribly, their own distress carved into their emotional and physical expression.

Of course, there are cases when one’s mental competency calls for outside intervention. Still, it’s every individual’s right to choose the treatment they believe will best provide relief in the face of desperate circumstances.

Yes, I am sick and tired of people who want to make decisions for others. And, frankly, I don’t trust them. Enough is enough!

I don’t think anyone would deny that ECT is a crap shoot. But rolling the dice is a matter of personal choice.

Thanks for joining me for the series – hope it brought something to your table. Your comments are always valued and necessary.