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Unilateral electroconvulsive therapy

Abstract

Although the introduction of antidepressive drugs has lessened the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in psychiatry, it remains the most effective treatment for severely depressed patients.1 Since the introduction of muscle relaxants and short-acting anaesthetics the main unwanted effects of ECT have been the brief period of disorientation after the treatment, and occasionally embarrassing but usually short-lived memory disturbances. In the late fifties and early sixties it was suggested that the application of electrodes to the head over the non-dominant cerebral hemisphere instead of the more usual bitemporal placement might produce the desired therapeutic effect while minimising the unwanted disorientation and memory disturbance.

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