Electroconvulsive therapy gets a bad press. One of the reasons why it is so controversial is that in the past seizures led to broken bones. Another reason is that psychiatrists don't really know how it works. But, for a lot of people it's because of the way this treatment has been represented in the media. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest has a lot to answer for.

Modern ECT is very different and is only prescribed when every other treatment has been tried and failed. It is now mainly prescribed for people with severe and life threatening depression.

The TED Talk below is by Sherwin Nuland a surgeon who suffered from severe depression and almost had his life written off. In this talk he gives a brief history of ECT and explains how ECT saved his life. Even if psychiatrists don't know how it works, for some people it is the only thing that does.

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