A cautionary tale from New Zealand

ECT statistics

In September 2019 NZ Herald featured an article about Frank Sullivan, a former national rowing title-holder and champion veteran class triathlete from Cromwell, New Zealand.

“Sullivan first went to the doctor in August 2008 suffering from migraine and sleeplessness; despite a subsequent diagnosis of depression and mild anxiety, he was not referred for a brain scan until July 2014.”

Between 2008 and 2014 Sullivan was prescribed a total of 26 different drugs for his “mood disorder” and spent six weeks in Wakari Hospital, where psychiatrists wanted to give him electroconvulsive therapy [ECT]. Sullivan is quoted as saying:

“‘They gave me an ultimatum at Wakari, after all the medication they put me on wasn’t working … and decided they were going to give me ECT [electroconvulsive therapy] and I said there was no way I was going to have that, so they put me on lithium instead, and that was a…

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