Electroconvulsive therapy

With new methods and accumulated evidence, this treatment survives its critics.

Passing an electric current through the brain to induce a seizure is not everyone's idea of a therapeutic procedure. So it's no surprise that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been controversial ever since its invention in 1938. Fears of misuse are common, and movements to restrict or abolish the practice have had some success. It persists simply because it is sometimes a uniquely effective treatment for severe depression and other mental illnesses.

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