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Neuropsychol Rev. 2003 Dec;13(4):199-219.

The electroconvulsive therapy controversy: evidence and ethics.

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Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare, Cambridge Psychiatric Hospital, Cambridge, Ohio 43725, USA.


The author reviews literature pertaining to the efficacy and safety of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), with emphasis on the controversy concerning whether ECT causes brain damage. ECT does appear to be effective in the treatment of severe depression and possibly mania. The types of memory problems caused by ECT are discussed, and evidence suggests that most of these deficits are transitory. Although most evidence points toward modern ECT not causing brain damage, there are still some findings that raise questions about safety. Ethical issues involving this treatment's use, its availability to the public, and informed consent procedures are discussed.

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