ECT or electroconvulsive therapy is one of the most controversial ways of treating depression. Despite the Frankenstein-like nature of electric shocks being given to the brain and patients having convulsions there is evidence that it can work for severely-depressed patients for whom drugs and psychotherapy have proved ineffective. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina have been testing a technique called bilateral epidural prefrontal cortical stimulation (EpCS) which targets electrical stimulation to a part of the brain involved in regulating mood. Electrodes close to, but not in the brain, are powered by two small generators surgically implanted in the patients' chests. In a small-scale study of the technique it was found to lead to a 54.9% reduction in depression symptoms on one measure of depression and three of the patients in the study achieved remission. The technique uses a lower current than conventional ECT and patients do not have convulsions.
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