Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), sometimes referred to as shock treatment, change certain areas of the brain that play a role in how people feel, learn and respond to positive and negative environmental factors, the findings, published in the online in the journal Biological Psychiatry, showed."ECT has been shown to be very effective for treating patients with major depression who do not respond well to other treatments," said study first author Shantanu Joshi, assistant professor of neurology at University of California, Los Angeles.

ECT, which has been used for more than 50 years, carries with it a certain stigma. However, within the last decade, advances in anesthesia, electrical stimulation equipment and new evidence about electrode lead placement have improved safety and reduced side effects, Joshi pointed out.

Further advances in high-resolution MRI also allow the measurement of the induced brain changes with improved accuracy and precision, Joshi noted."During the treatment course, ECT leads to plastic changes in the brain that are linked with improvements in mood.

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