ECT and Brain Damage

Does ECT cause brain damage?

Does ECT cause brain damage? What does ECT do to the brain? Read about the effects of electroconvulsive therapy on the human brain.Dr. John Breeding gives testimony to the New York State Assembly hearings on electroshock, May 2001. Dr. Breeding says ECT *always* causes brain damage.

Writing in Nature, Dr. Peter Sterling says: ECT damage is easy to find if you look for it, and says that ECT practitioners don't find any memory loss because they don't test for it.

What do they really think?
In public, psychiatrists say that ECT is safe. But what do they say to each other?

What does ECT do to the brain?
An in-depth look at what the brain goes through during ECT.

Do neurologists know something the rest of us haven't yet figured out?

Does ECT cause brain damage?
This MD says yes, in an article on ECT and EEGs.

Can ECT permanently harm the brain? This article says it has, and can, cause permanent brain pathology.

Dr. John Friedberg, writing in the American Journal of Psychiatry, takes an in-depth look at the effects of ECT on the brain and questions, "Do we really want to offer brain damage to our patients?"

A lengthy chronology on epilepsy and ECT, something denied by the ECT industry. Yet there are many documented cases of ECT-induced epilepsy.

Psychopathology of Frontal Lobe Syndrome
This article from Seminars in Neurology details frontal lobe syndrome, which many neurologists believe is one of the side effects of ECT. The researcher explains how this injury is often difficult to measure clinically, but how damaging the results are to the person who has it.

Neuroscientist testimony on ECT brain effects
From Dr. Peter Sterling, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, this remarkable testimony and review of the available studies on the effects of electroconvulsive therapy on the human brain. Analyzing years of data, including private communications with one of the leading researchers of our time on memory loss from ECT (Janis), Sterling strongly concludes that ECT does, in fact, cause organic brain damage, similar to that seen from the results of trauma or toxicity in the brain.

Neuropsychological assesment
This journal article from Dr. Alan E. Brooker, clinical neuropsychologist with the USAF, details the complexities of evaluating the function of the brain. What this shows is how extensive the measurements are when truly understanding how one's brain is working on a day-to-day basis.

ECT as head injury?
In a report for the National Head Injury Foundation, the case is made that ECT works by inducing the effects of head injury. This well-researched report highlights the work of many neurologists and psychiatrists who believe this is the mechanism of action of ECT, as well as case reports of patients. Included are some great tips on recovery.

Electroshock: Scientific, ethical and political issues
From Dr. Peter Breggin, this comprehensive article explains how ECT works as head trauma, and goes into the scientific, ethical and political ramifications of the controversial treatment. A Must Read!

Dr. Charles Kellner (Hall of Shame winner) says "There are now important carefully controlled studies with MRI brain scans before and after ECT showing conclusively that there is absolutely no structural brain damage." Here are those "carefully controlled studies." Judge for yourself. Are these proof of "absolutely" no brain damage?View the video

Quite a bit more on the issue of brain damage in the news section.

A new article about how ECT induces PTSD and what can be done to aid recovery, from David Armstrong. I strongly believe this is an effect of ECT that is almost always overlooked, so this is an important article to read! (PDF format - can get a free reader at if you don't already have it)

next: ECT and Informed Consent
~ all Shocked! ECT articles
~ depression library articles
~ all articles on depression

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2000, December 29). ECT and Brain Damage, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Last Updated: June 22, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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