ECT therapy: electroconvulsive shock therapy and ECT side effects

BOSTON, MA — 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. Fears of misuse are common, and efforts to restrict or abolish the practice have had some success. Yet ECT persists because it can be a uniquely effective treatment for severe depression and other mental illnesses, reports the February 2007 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

The treatment affects many brain pathways, nerve receptors, neurotransmitters, and endocrine systems. Before the advent of ECT, drugs were used for the same purpose, but were less effective and had more serious side effects.

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