Monday, July 13, 2009

If Water-boarding is Perceived to be Torture then, What About The Current Use of Electric Shock Treatment?

The U.S. prosecutor is considering torture investigation against the prior US Administration. There has been much debate and discourse regarding water-boarding as a possible means of torture, since it simulates drowning. Well, what about electric shock treatment? You may ask is electric shock treatment FDA approved, yes it is. It is called Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and currently in use for patients with severe depression among other uses, and it’s considered safe and effective by WebMD. In last years best picture Slumdog Millionaire, electric shock treatment was used as torture. But today ECT is in practice in the US, UK, Australia, and numerous other nations as a “medical treatment”.

The FDA is now looking at the manufacturers of the electric devises, since there is no current safety and efficacy data from manufacturers. This data they are now requesting would be the equivalent to the information the FDA requires for medical devices and drugs. Electric shock treatment has been in use since the 1930’s, but there isn’t any FDA oversight regarding the equipment which is appalling.

How is ECT applied? The patient is given a relaxant and put to sleep under an anesthesia. Electrodes are then placed on the scalp and an electric current is applied. It then causes a seizure (artificial epilepsy) to the brain. Proponents indicate it is misunderstood, and problems occur because of misuse of the equipment or training. According to reports the main side effect is memory loss. Psychiatrists indicate it is best used with antidepressants, but they contradict themselves since they indicate ECT should be used because of the lack of effects of antidepressants. reported in 2000 in a leaked Scottish study that in addition to memory loss, other side effects are impaired speech and a potential vegetative coma. Of the 1300 patients in the study there was one that committed murder, one suicide, two died, and one is incontinent and paralyzed. Initial animal tests have suggested electric shocks could cause irreversible genetic changes. This is just a snapshot of the problems with electric shock treatment and the FDA hasn’t evaluated the manufacturers?

Electric shock appears to be in wide use at The Judge Rotenberg Center “School of Shock” a special needs school in Massachusetts. Their target market is the mentally disabled. It currently takes in children with dow syndrome, autism, bipolar disorder and those labeled emotionally disturbed. They attempt to alter their behavior with electric shock treatment to the body and limbs. There are no studies and none expected that the treatment has any positive effects. It is also a cash cow since the school charges $220,000 per student with the expense being picked up by States and school districts. The school has been under well deserved scrutiny for its use in electric shock, but it is still operating.

Back In 2005 The FDA approved another device that is surgically implanted into a patient’s body to treat depression. It was initially designed to treat epilepsy. It has been approved without data that it actually works at all for depression. The devise, VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulator) is implanted into the patient’s chest. Wires then pass up through the neck to the vagus nerve, and the device then delivers an electric shock through the nerve which in turn sends the electric shock to the base of the brain. And this is FDA approved! Over half of the patients in a VNS depression study have experienced hoarseness, difficulty breathing, nausea, excessive coughing and difficulty swallowing. In addition deaths have been reported in epileptic patients. Estimates indicate approximately 8000 patients have this VNS devise implanted.

If ECT and Vagus Nerve implants were given the attention of water-boarding then these procedures “torture” treatments would be outlawed on the public outcry alone. Most of the people we speak to believe electric shock treatment was a “treatment” of the past. It is currently in use to address depression and alcoholism. Many survivors has spoken out and written books stating they are lucky to be alive after ECT treatments. The memory loss can be very extreme with dementia like symptoms and people unable to work or maintain a simple normal life. If you feel ECT (electric shock) should be outlawed please sign the petition: and contact your Federal and State representative and express your views. They can be located via our site

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Increased Suicide Rates in Military Personnel

According to the Armed Service Reports, there was an average of five suicides attempts per day in 2008 or 2,100 attempted suicides, versus 350 suicide attempts in 2002. Most of these were failed suicides with 128 soldiers taking their own lives. In 2007 the Army listed 89 soldier deaths as suicides and this number will likely increase once all the data is in. The suicide rates in 2006 were 102, compared to 87 deaths in 2005. At the same time the Army indicates that in 2007 there was a seventeen percent increase in antidepressant and sleeping pill prescriptions for military personnel in combat.
The Army has indicated via news sources that longer tours of duty, estrangement from family, and their stressful situation play a role. We will not argue with the fact combat life is very difficult, but if you combine these factors with a fully trained soldier and the side effects of antidepressants such as: "anxiety, agitation, aggressiveness, hostility, insomnia, irritability, impulsivity, panic attacks, thoughts of suicide and mania" then the situation compounds itself. The Armed Services has created this new policy of prescribing antidepressants as a less expensive means to treat stressed out combat troops. It is far cheaper then to send troops home for R&R, shorter tours, and longer term counseling. The policy change is costing self inflicted losses.
There is certainly a direct connection between antidepressants and suicide. It is clearly written as the FDA “Black Box” warning on all of these psychotropic drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Effexor, and Lexapro have a suicide risk. There appears to be no connection that these drugs prevent suicide or relieve depression. Studies have shown that a placebo has the same effect as these medications. The drug companies advertise that depression is a chemical imbalance, yet that is exactly what these drugs do to the victim users. They alter the natural chemical balance of the person and the true long term effects of this alteration are unknown.
Based on the recent statistics the military suicide rates will increase if the policy remains the same. The Defense Department spends billions on equipment and technology perhaps it can spend a little more quality time with its troops and address their internal enemy within, the mind altering psychotropic drugs.