Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2017 Aug;15(3):210-221. 10.9758/cpn.2017.15.3.210.

How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works?: Understanding the Neurobiological Mechanisms

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, U.P, India.


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a time tested treatment modality for the management of various psychiatric disorders. There have been a lot of modifications in the techniques of delivering ECT over decades. Despite lots of criticisms encountered, ECT has still been used commonly in clinical practice due to its safety and efficacy. Research evidences found multiple neuro-biological mechanisms for the therapeutic effect of ECT. ECT brings about various neuro-physiological as well as neuro-chemical changes in the macro- and micro-environment of the brain. Diverse changes involving expression of genes, functional connectivity, neurochemicals, permeability of blood-brain-barrier, alteration in immune system has been suggested to be responsible for the therapeutic effects of ECT. This article reviews different neurobiological mechanisms responsible for the therapeutic efficacy of ECT.


Electroconvulsive therapy; Neurobiology; Psychiatric diagnosis
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