Shock Therapy

Shock Therapy, or Convulsive Therapy, the use of drugs or electricity to treat certain forms of mental illness by causing convulsive seizures. Injections of insulin and metrazol have been used in treating anxiety and schizophrenia. Electroshock therapy, or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), is used mainly to treat severe depression. In ECT, the patient is first given a muscle relaxant and an anesthetic to minimize discomfort. Electrodes are then placed on the patient's temples; the electrodes send a 70- to 130-volt current through the brain, causing the convulsive seizure. ECT is usually administered three times a week for two to four weeks. Partial memory loss sometimes occurs with treatment.

Shock therapy was introduced in 1938. It was formerly used to treat many illnesses that are now treated with psychotherapy and relatively mild drugs.