electroconvulsive therapy

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electroconvulsive therapy

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 neurotransmitters 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 ?
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo Following Electroconvulsive Therapy. Erciyes Med J 2019; 41(2): 212-4.
Physiological effects of electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation in major depression.
Electroconvulsive therapy was intro-duced in 1938 and has been in use for almost 75 years.
Mickey, "Response of depression to electroconvulsive therapy: a meta-analysis of clinical predictors," The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, vol.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been used for a long time with successful response and remission rates; 80-90% of patients experience an improvement, and the efficacy of ECT has been established to be between 60% and 90% regarding acute response in treatment-resistant depression (3,4,5,6,7).
Van Der Mast, "Electroconvulsive therapy for catatonia: treatment characteristics and outcomes in 27 patients," The Journal of ECT, vol.
Adhikari, "Electroconvulsive therapy in first episode schizophrenia--experiences from Nepal," Journal of Psychiatrists' Association of Nepal, vol.
Then there's Martin Ling, formerly the manager at Leyton Orient and Torquay, who was so badly affected by depression that he underwent a course of electroconvulsive therapy. Such is the degree of job insecurity, confirmed here by Shaun Derry and, movingly, by Adie Boothroyd, that depression is unusually common among managers.
However, his manic symptoms persisted so, after discussion among treatment staff, it was decided to start a course of modified electroconvulsive therapy (MECT) because, based on the report of the patient and family member, he had been successfully treated with MECT at a local hospital 6 years previously.
Q My friend's daughter is undergoing electroconvulsive therapy for her severe depression.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment for a variety of psychiatric disorders (Mankad, Beyer, Weiner, & Krystal, 2010).