Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), often called shock treatment, has received bad press since it was introduced in the 1940s. However, refined techniques have revived its use, particularly for those with severe depression. Imaging studies have not found that current ECT techniques cause any damage to the brain's structure, and some doctors feel it is safer than drug therapy. A recent review of many clinical trials indicated that ECT combined with antipsychotic medication can provide rapid improvements for patients who are suicidal or severely psychotic. The review found that the combined treatment worked better than antipsychotics alone for these patients. ECT treatments are usually given 2 - 3 times a week, for a total of 8 - 12 sessions.
Investigators are testing a procedure called slow repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which affects brain activity in the cerebral cortex. The procedure uses an electromagnet placed on the scalp to administer magnetic stimulation to the brainā ' s cerebral cortex. This region of the brain appears to be associated with auditory hallucinations. A review of 15 clinical trials indicated that rTMS may be an effective treatment for auditory hallucinations. Further research is underway.
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