is a brief electrical shock applied to the head that results
in seizure and
convulsions. At one time, this procedure was used so indiscriminately
that it fell into disfavor. However, currently, it is used
therapeutically with some success, in patients suffering severe
schizophrenia or biopolar disorder. The patient is sedated
and paralyzed to prevent him thrashing about and injuring
himself during the convulsions. Patients often report considerable
(though usually temporary) relief from symptoms. The mechanism
whereby ECT produces these improvements is unknown.
ECT can also cause anterograde
amnesia for the time of the treatment and retrograde
amnesia for the hours leading up to the treatment.
by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain