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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure during which brief electrical stimulation to the brain produces a reaction that is like a seizure. ECT is used to treat severe depression or other psychiatric and neurological conditions, such as schizophrenia.
It is not known exactly how ECT helps depression. But it probably works by altering brain chemicals. ECT may be used when other treatments such as psychotherapy and antidepressant medicines have not worked.
Side effects include short-term memory loss, headaches, muscle pain, and nausea. Some people report that they have long-term memory loss after ECT.
Last Revised: January 11, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
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