Ostroff, Robert B. Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
Last reviewed:February 2021
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- Treatment dosing
- Mechanism of action
- ECT-responsive disorders
- Side effects
- Grand mal seizure
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The controlled induction of a grand mal seizure under anesthesia to treat individuals suffering from certain psychiatric illnesses. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT; Fig. 1) was introduced as a treatment for psychiatric disorders by the Italian neurologist Ugo Cerletti in 1938. Cerletti developed a method of electrically inducing brain seizures in laboratory animals as a means of studying epilepsy. Aware of the observation that individuals with epilepsy and depression experienced an improvement in mood following a seizure, Cerletti postulated that inducing a seizure in a depressed individual might improve his or her condition. In 1938, Cerletti reported the first case of a psychiatric patient treated with ECT with dramatic, positive results. See also: Affective disorders; Anesthesia; Brain; Depression; Electrotherapy; Epilepsy; Seizure disorders
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