n Mental Health Matters - Electroconvulsive therapy

Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN :


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a brain stimulation technique used to treat certain psychiatric disorders. It involves the application of an electrical stimulus to the scalp, so as to cause a generalised seizure and thereby produce a therapeutic effect. The intentional induction of seizures to treat mental illness dates as far back as the 1500's, with introduction of electrical current for this purpose starting in the 1930's. By the 1940's the use of anaesthesia and muscle relaxants as part of ECT began. Psychopharmacological agents were only discovered later (Lithium - 1940's, tricyclic antidepressants and the first antipsychotics - 1950's, and selective serotonin reup take inhibitor antidepressants -1980's), making ECT one of the oldest treatments for mental illness.

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