Insulin Coma to Treat Mental Illness.
Insulin Coma Therapy was also known as Insulin Shock Therapy and was used to treat mental illness after it came to the attention of mental health professionals in the 1930′s. The premise of the therapy was that the drastic changes in insulin levels affected neurological functioning, and ‘rewired’ the brain. It was used extensively through the 1940′s and 1950′s until the synthesis of neuroleptic drugs.
Most patients who received this treatment had a diagnosis of Schizophrenia. The treatment involved repeatedly injecting the patients with excessive doses of insulin, which would result in coma’s. The insulin had to be regularly injected in order to sustain the comatose state for weeks.
A publication in the Lancet in 1953 resulted in the start of the therapy’s decline, as it was revealed that the treatment was not based on any evidence that insulin reversed the disease process. A further publication established that Insulin Shock Therapy was no more effective than a placebo in reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia. While ICT has largely fallen out of favour in the United States it is still practiced and researched in other countries, such as China.