electroconvulsive therapy

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electroconvulsive therapy

in psychiatry, treatment of mood disorders by means of electricity; the broader term "shock therapy" also includes the use of chemical agents. The therapeutic possibilities of these treatments were discovered in the 1930s by Manfred Sakel, a Polish psychiatrist, using insulin; L. J. Meduna, an American psychiatrist, using Metrazol; and Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini, Italian psychiatrists, using electric shock. Metrazol and insulin accounted for a very limited number of remissions in cases of schizophrenia. However, the injection of insulin often caused coma, while Metrazol and electric shock resulted in convulsions similar to those of epileptics.

Advances in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) have made it the standard mechanism of shock therapy. ECT has had unquestionable success with involutional melancholia and other depressive disorders, although it may be ineffective or only temporarily effective. ECT is generally employed only after other therapies for depression, mania, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia have proved ineffective. The administration of anesthetics and muscle relaxants prior to ECT has greatly reduced the risk of injury during the procedure, which is typically administered six to eight times over a period of several weeks. The seizure lasts for up to 20 seconds, and the patient can be up and about in about an hour. Long-term memory loss is the main significant potential side effect; headache, muscle stiffness, and temporary short-term memory loss may occur. Why ECT works, however, is still not understood, but it may be due to changes in brain chemistry caused by procedure, such as neurotransmittersneurotransmitter,
chemical that transmits information across the junction (synapse) that separates one nerve cell (neuron) from another nerve cell or a muscle. Neurotransmitters are stored in the nerve cell's bulbous end (axon).
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 released in the brain, or to a reduction in brain activity in certain areas after the procedure.


See A. S. Hermreck and A. P. Thal, The Adrenergic Drugs and Their Use in Shock Therapy (1968); L. B. Kalinowsky and H. Hippius, Pharmacological, Convulsive, and other Somatic Treatments in Psychiatry (1969).

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electroconvulsive therapy

[i¦lek·trō·kən¦vəl·səv ′ther·ə·pē]
The technique of eliciting convulsions by applying an electric current through the brain of a human or an experimental animal for a brief period by means of electrodes that are placed on the head; sometimes used as a treatment for severe mental depression.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Three hundred and seven people received electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) last year, according to the Ministry of Health.
"But there is nothing to worry about, and nothing a wee bout of Electro-Convulsive Therapy can't sort out."
The drug, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration several years ago for an entirely different indication--abortion induction--may offer an important new option for the treatment of a depressive subtype that now requires electro-convulsive therapy or combined antidepressant-antipsychotic therapy, said Dr.
These are the brainless idiots who apply electro-convulsive therapy or who encourage surgeons to chop out bits of brain.
Diane Hopkins lived in fear of Alex Stone, 39, who was receiving electro-convulsive therapy for severe depression.
According to the NHS Choices website, the unit offers crisis resolution services, electro-convulsive therapy and inpatient mental health facilities.
So expectations are very high for this second run, which initially finds former CIA agent Carrie seems less interested in proving that all-American hero Nicholas Brody is actually a terrorist than in rebuilding her life after undergoing electro-convulsive therapy. But when a former informant gets in touch, she''s drawn back into her old investigations.
The commission also said unwilling patients should not be treated with electro-convulsive therapy.
HUNDREDS of people with mental health problems are undergoing electro-convulsive therapy in Wales each year.
There were 1,529 administrations of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) in 2007, compared to 1,069 the year before, according to figures obtained from the Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Trust under the Freedom of Information Act.

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