Psychological Treatment Electroconvulsive Therapy Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used mainly for the treatment of severe depression. Electrodes are placed on the patient’s head, over the temporal lobes of the brain. Anesthetics and muscle relaxants help minimize discomfort to the patient. Then an electric current is delivered for about one second. The patient has a convulsive seizure and becomes unconscious, awakening after about an hour. The typical number of ECT sessions varies from six to twenty, and they are usually done while a patient is hospitalized. ECT is a controversial procedure. Research suggests that there are short-term side effects of ECT, such as attention deficits and memory loss. Critics of ECT believe that it is often used inappropriately and that it can result in permanent cognitive problems. Proponents of ECT, however, believe that it does not cause long-term cognitive problems, loss of memory, or brain damage. They believe that it is highly effective and that it is underused because of negative
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