Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

Living Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Electro-Convulsive Therapy

  • Joel Eppig
  • David J. LibonEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-56782-2_1763-2


Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is a psychiatric treatment involving the use of electrically induced seizures in anesthetized patients for therapeutic purposes. Currently, ECT is most commonly used to treat patients suffering from severe, major depression that has failed to respond to other treatments (Benbow 2004). However, ECT is also used for the treatment of mania in bipolar disorder as well as catatonia (Benbow 2004). Typically, ECT is administered two to three times per week and consists of a regime of 6–12 treatment sessions.

Current Knowledge

Historically, the induction of seizures for therapeutic relief dates as far back as 1785, when it was first documented in the London Medical Journal (Rudorfer et al. 2003). However, it was not until 1937 that electricity was used to invoke seizures in humans (Fink 1984). ECT was subsequently popularized in the 1940s and 1950s as it was inexpensive, convenient, and less invasive than other forms of psychiatric treatment such as...

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References and Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical PsychologyUniversity of California, San Diego and San Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Geriatrics, Gerontology, and PsychologyRowan University, New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging, School of Osteopathic MedicineStratfordUSA