Letter: ECT: benefits vs side-effects; patients' testimony

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Sir: It was disappointing to read Lucy Johnstone's letter regarding ECT (14 December), which reveals considerable prejudice and a disregard for the facts.

She would be well advised to distinguish fact from fiction by reading, for example, Electroconvulsive Therapy (Abrams, second edition).

Patients with severe depression, who are not eating or drinking, or are in imminent danger of committing suicide, present a real and difficult management problem. If ECT is the treatment of choice, it can often literally mean the difference between life and death.

I have been involved in the administration of ECT to patients, mainly with severe depression, for nearly three years. I have found it to be safe, well tolerated and devoid of major side effects. If a member of my own family needed ECT, I'd be more than willing to administer this treatment. It continues to be one of the safest and most efficacious in psychiatry.

Yours faithfully,


Registrar in Psychiatry

Regional Secure Unit


West Yorkshire