Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

What is Electroconvulsive Therapy?

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the most well known of the Neurotherapy procedures. It was first introduced in the 1930s and gained widespread use as a form of treatment in the 1940s and 1950s; today, an estimated 1 million people worldwide receive ECT every year. ECT often works when other treatments are unsuccessful. It is a procedure in which electric currents are passed through the brain, deliberately triggering a brief seizure. Electroconvulsive therapy seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can immediately reverse symptoms of certain neuropsychiatric illnesses, especially Treatment Resistant Depression.

The stigma associated with Electroconvulsive therapy is based on early treatments – where higher doses of electricity were utilized and the treatments were administered without the use of anesthesia. The use of anesthesia prevents fractured bones and other serious side effects. ECT is a safe procedure; however, it may still cause some side effects.

How does Electroconvulsive Therapy work?

Electroconvulsive Therapy uses a small electric charge to induce a seizure. The brain has an electrical and chemical reaction to the seizure, causing a release of neurotransmitters and other chemicals. This reaction to the seizure causes a change in brain function which results in a reduction in psychiatric symptoms, most commonly improved depression.Today, ECT is most often used as a treatment for severe major depression which has not responded to other treatment and is also used in the treatment of bipolar disorder and catatonia.

Disorders Treated

Treatment Resistant Depression
Severe Depression
Severe Mania

Frequently Asked Questions


How can I make an appointment:

For more information or to make an appointment you call us at: (813) 259-0920
Or you may email us at neurotx@health.usf.edu

Where is the USF Neurotherapies located?

The USF Neurotherapies Clinic is located at

USF Health South Tampa Center
2 Tampa General Circle
Tampa, Florida 33606

For a map and directions please click on the following link: South Tampa Center

More information

Sometimes medications alone do not adequately relieve depression. If multiple treatments, including psychotherapy, have not adequately or continuously relieved your depression, it may be time to discuss ECT Therapy with your psychiatrist as a treatment option.

For more information go to:
Or Read:
Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy by Kitty Dukakis, Larry Tye