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

Definition

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...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Reading

  1. Benbow, S. M. (2004). Adverse effects of ECT. In A. I. F. Scott (Ed.), The ECT handbook (2nd ed., pp. 170–174). London: The Royal College of Psychiatrists.Google Scholar
  2. Breggin, P. (2007). ECT damages the brain: Disturbing news for patients and shock doctors alike. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 9(2), 83–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cerletti, U. (1956). Electroshock therapy. In A. M. Sackler et al. (Eds.), The great physiodynamic therapies in psychiatry: An historical appraisal (pp. 91–120). New York: Hoeber-Harper.Google Scholar
  4. Fink, M. (1984). The origins of convulsive therapy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 141, 1034–1041.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Lisanby, S. H. (2007). Electroconvulsive therapy for depression. The New England Journal of Medicine, 357(19), 1939–1945.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Lisanby, S. H., Maddox, J. H., Prudic, J., Devanand, D. P., & Sackeim, H. A. (2000). The effects of electroconvulsive therapy on memory of autobiographical and public events. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, 581–590.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. MacQueen, G., et al. (2007). The long-term impact of treatment with electroconvulsive therapy on discrete memory systems in patients with bipolar disorder. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 32, 241–249.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Mental Health: A Surgeon General (1999). Report of the Surgeon General (chapter 4).Google Scholar
  9. O’Connor, D. W., Gardner, B., Eppingstall, B., & Tofler, D. (2010). Cognition in elderly patients receiving unilateral and bilateral electroconvulsive therapy: A prospective, naturalistic comparison. J Affect Disord, 124(3), 235–40.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2009.11.022.
  10. Prudic, J., Olfson, M., Marcus, S. C., Fuller, R. B., & Sackeim, H. A. (2004). Effectiveness of electroconvulsive therapy in community settings. Biological Psychiatry, 55, 301–312.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Prudic, J., & Sackeim, H. A. (1999). Electroconvulsive therapy and suicide risk. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 60(Suppl 2), 104–110. discussion 111–116.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Ross, C. A. (2006). The sham ECT literature: Implications for consent to ECT. Ethical Human Psychiatry and Psychology, 8, 17–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Rudorfer, M. V., Henry, M. E., & Sackeim, H. A. (2003). Electroconvulsive therapy. In A. Tasman, J. Kay, & J. A. Lieberman (Eds.), Psychiatry (2nd ed., pp. 1865–1901). Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Sackeim, H. A., Haskett, R. F., Mulsant, B. H., Thase, M. E., Mann, J. J., Pettinati, H. M., et al. (2001). Continuation pharmacotherapy in the prevention of relapse following electroconvulsive therapy: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 285, 1299–1307.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Sackeim, H. A., Prudic, J., Fuller, R., Keilp, J., Lavori, P. W., & Olfson, M. (2007). The cognitive effects of electroconvulsive therapy in community settings. Neuropsychopharmacology, 32, 244–254.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Sackeim, H. A., Prudic, J., Nobler, M. S., Fitzsimons, L., Lisanby, S. H., Payne, N., Berman, R. M., Brakemeier, E. L., Perera, T., & Devanand, D. P. (2008). Effects of pulse width and electrode placement on the efficacy and cognitive effects of electroconvulsive therapy. Brain Stimulation, 1, 71–83.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Stoppe, A., Louza, M., Rosa, M., Gil, G., & Rigonatti, S. (2006). Fixed high-dose electroconvulsive therapy in the elderly with depression: A double-blind, randomized comparison of efficacy and tolerability between unilateral and bilateral electrode placement. The Journal of ECT, 22, 92–99.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

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