Electroshock Therapy

Electroshock therapy (ECT) is a method of treating certain psychiatric disorders through the use of an electric current to induce shock. ECT is generally used in treating severe endogenous depressions and some forms of schizophrenia. How ECT achieves its effects is still not clear.

The ECT was introduced in Rome in 1938 by U. Cerletti and L. Bini for treating psychiatric disorders. Later it has been widely used to treat other mental disorders like manic-depressive psychosis and various other types of depression. In ECT, two electrodes are placed in appropriate positions on the head of the patient, and 50 or 60 Hertz alternating current at about 70 volt is passed for about 0.1sec. They have been modifications and variations of this basic technique. The passage of the current causes immediate cessation of consciousness and the induction of a convulsive seizure. The electroconvulsive treatment is given three times a week for a period ranging from two to six weeks. However, in some serious cases, the doctors resort to even two or three treatments in a single day.

The ECT can have serious side-effects and complications. Therefore it is to be used only for certain selected patients and with great skill and proper judgment.

Although it is a valuable therapeutic method in psychiatry, in certain cases, it has no effect, and sometimes it can make matters worse.

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