If you suffer from a mental health condition, like depression or anxiety, you’d typically be subject to counseling and, perhaps, medication. For many years, these forms of treatment have proven their effectiveness, and they contributed to breaking the stigma toward mental illnesses.
But according to the Psychiatric Times, the currently available treatments for depressive disorders have limitations. Sufferers are reportedly left with residual symptoms, and some experienced a lack of response, causing treatment-resistant depression.
For those reasons, patients turn to unconventional treatments, from electroshock to magic mushrooms, to finally have their illnesses cured. Naturally, these unconventional treatments are surrounded by controversy, but despite that, studies suggest that they’re useful in certain patients.
That said, here’s an overview of some controversial treatments to mental illnesses:
- Electroshock Therapy
Hearing the words “electric shock” and “mental illness” together sounds like a thing of the past, back when mental hospital patients are electrocuted. But surprisingly, the 1930s treatment still exists today.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure in which electrodes are placed on the forehead so that electrical currents can pass through the brain and induce a 30- to 60-second prolonged seizure. In the past, patients weren’t given anesthesia, and high voltages were used.
Today, ECT is deemed safer, as anesthetics are now administered, and voltages aren’t as high. But on the flip side, the treatment can damage short-term memory, and in rare cases, lead to heart problems.
Considering these severe side effects, ECT must never be a first treatment option. They’re usually recommended for patients who are severely depressed and suicidal or those with schizophrenia and severe mania. For them, ECT may be the solution if conventional treatments haven’t worked. 75% to 80% of ECT subjects recover from their symptoms, according to experts.
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Aside from electricity, magnetic fields can be used to treat mental illnesses as well. In transcranial magnetic stimulation, an electromagnetic coil is placed on the forehead, and it will supposedly change the activity in some areas of the brain.
Researchers have yet to know how the treatment works, but in 2008, it was approved as a treatment for depression for those who haven’t found conventional therapies useful. But it also comes with side effects, such as headache, facial twitching, and light-headedness. Hearing loss and seizures may also occur, but they’re not as typical.
- Magic Mushrooms
Magic mushrooms contain a hallucinogen called psilocybin, which helps treat depression, anxiety, and addiction.
A small study in 2011 found that over half of people who took a moderate dosage of magic mushrooms had a “mystical” experience, which is believed to have significant long-term psychiatric benefits. However, 5% reported experiencing paranoia and anxiety.
A year later, though, 83% of the study participants reported that the mystical experience had improved their well-being.
Currently, psilocybin is being studied as a treatment for terminal illnesses like cancer and hard-to-treat conditions like alcoholism. The hallucinogen is found to reduce anxiety and brighten moods for people battling terminal cancer.
Probably the most popular treatment in this list, cannabidiol (CBD) is known for its derivative plant, cannabis, hence its controversial state. People who aren’t knowledgeable about CBD immediately assume that it makes you high, but this isn’t the case at all, because CBD contains no psychoactive properties. As such, it is entirely non-intoxicating.
The most substantial scientific evidence of CBD’s effectiveness is its ability to stop childhood seizures, which are caused by the most severe epilepsy syndromes. But studies show that CBD also works in treating chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
Though all treatments in this list are found effective, patients should still consult their doctors before trying any of them out. People react differently to certain medications and procedures, so don’t risk your mental health further by skipping a doctor’s appointment and approval.
Meta title: Controversial Treatments to Mental Illnesses to Remember
Meta description: Some patients continued to suffer despite specific treatments. The medical industry came up with unconventional solutions that might be useful.