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 proven 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.

Bibliography

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).

electroconvulsive therapy

[i¦lek·trō·kən¦vəl·səv ′ther·ə·pē]
(psychology)
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.
References in periodicals archive ?
A student of Cerletti, Kalinowsky developed his own electroshock machine and introduced his method to France, Holland, and England in 1938, later pioneering it in the U.
Even more interesting, he says, is that electroshock can change conditions in the brain to the point of reversing norepinephrine's oversupply.
Just as with electroshock, lobotomy, insulin coma shock, and dunking, psychiatrists reported many successes with dopamine blockers.
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The advocates of electroshock claim that it is no longer a source of torture.
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This includes two convictions for possession of heroin, possession of an electroshock weapon and producing class C drugs and by not paying his rent.
THE FAMILY of a man who died three days after he was shot twice with a 50,000-volt electroshock gun and once with a baton gun last night hit out at police watchdogs who said the incidents were not linked.
The committee is demanding, among other things, that torture be made a federal crime, that electroshock stun belts be banned, and that juveniles not be held in prisons with adult populations.
Although the stun belt has not yet been sold abroad, Amnesty has expressed concern about the use of such electroshock weapons for torture.
Patient Gail Kastner, who was subjected to electroshock treatment by Cameron, who died in 1967, aged 66.