Modern electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) used for major depressive disorder and severe mania associated with bipolar type I disorder. Typically reserved for individuals who feel medications aren’t effective, the ECT provides an electrical stimulus to induce a generalized seizure. While the exact mechanism is unknown, the electrical activity somehow “resets” the depression or mania and provides relief. When done in a safe environment the major side effects are confusion and transient retrograde amnesia (you might forget bits and pieces of the months prior to the procedure).
Very interesting! ECT was originally developed by two Italian physicians in 1938 and replaced more dangerous methods of “shock,” such as insulin shock therapy (where a patient would be given high doses of insulin, causing them to fall into a coma and occasionally emerge with fewer symptoms) and metrazol therapy (where seizures were induced via the stimulant metrazol.) Prior to the advent of antipsychotics in the 1950s, ECT was used pretty indiscriminately in state hospitals, and was originally administered without muscle relaxants (succinylcholine would not undergo clinical trials until the early 50s) which along with horrific media portrayals contributed to its bad rap.