Electroconvulsive Therapy


Electroconvulsive therapy, formerly known as electroshock therapy, and often referred to as shock treatment, is a psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in patients to provide relief from psychiatric illnesses.

A seizure is a brief episode of signs or symptoms due to abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain.

Why are we still using electroconvulsive therapy? by World Wide News


The ECT procedure was first conducted in 1938 and is the only currently used form of shock therapy in psychiatry.

Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, study, and treatment of mental disorders.

Electroconvulsive Therapy Day One by Jenny's ECT Diary


ECT is often used with informed consent as a last line of intervention for major depressive disorder, mania, and catatonia.

Mania is a state of abnormally elevated arousal, affect, and energy level, or "a state of heightened overall activation with enhanced affective expression together with lability of affect."

Major depressive disorder, also known simply as depression, is a mental disorder characterized by at least two weeks of low mood that is present across most situations.

Informed consent is a process for getting permission before conducting a healthcare intervention on a person.


ECT machines have been placed in the Class III category by the United States Food and Drug Administration since 1976.

The Food and Drug Administration is a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments.


A round of ECT is effective for about 50% of people with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder, whether it is unipolar or bipolar.


Follow-up treatment is still poorly studied, but about half of people who respond relapse within 12 months.


Aside from effects in the brain, the general physical risks of ECT are similar to those of brief general anesthesia.

General anaesthesia or general anesthesia is a medically induced state of unconsciousness with loss of protective reflexes, resulting from the administration of one or more general anaesthetic agents.

In the practice of medicine and dentistry, anesthesia or anaesthesia is a temporary induced state with one or more of analgesia, paralysis, amnesia, and unconsciousness.


Immediately following treatment, the most common adverse effects are confusion and memory loss.


ECT is considered one of the least harmful treatment options available for severely depressed pregnant women.


A usual course of ECT involves multiple administrations, typically given two or three times per week until the patient is no longer suffering symptoms.


ECT is administered under anesthetic with a muscle relaxant.


Electroconvulsive therapy can differ in its application in three ways: electrode placement, frequency of treatments, and the electrical waveform of the stimulus.


These three forms of application have significant differences in both adverse side effects and symptom remission.


Placement can be bilateral, in which the electric current is passed across the whole brain, or unilateral, in which the current is passed across one hemisphere of the brain.


Bilateral placement seems to have greater efficacy than unilateral, but also carries greater risk of memory loss.


After treatment, drug therapy is usually continued, and some patients receive maintenance ECT.


ECT appears to work in the short term via an anticonvulsant effect mostly in the frontal lobes, and longer term via neurotrophic effects primarily in the medial temporal lobe.

Neurotrophic factors are a family of biomolecules – nearly all of which are peptides or small proteins – that support the growth, survival, and differentiation of both developing and mature neurons.

The frontal lobe, located at the front of the brain, is one of the four major lobes of the cerebral cortex in the mammalian brain.

Anticonvulsants are a diverse group of pharmacological agents used in the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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