'Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), approved by the NHS to treat depression, is not safe and should be stopped, a leading researcher has argued.
The controversial method involves sending an electric current through the brain to trigger a seizure.
Professor John Read at the University of East London, who has published several reviews of the ECT research literature, is concerned about its dangers.
He said there hasn't been evidence that the treatment works for over 30 years, and no evidence of long-term benefits.
Only five studies have recorded a temporary lift in mood for just a third of patients, and some studies suggest that ECT causes long lasting or permanent memory damage.
But other experts, reporting in the BMJ paper, have argued that the therapy is safe, and the debate has been 'over for decades'.
No-one quite knows how ECT works, but it is believed to change the way brain cells interact in parts of the brain involved in depression.
It is approved to treat people with severe, life-threatening depression, schizophrenia, mania, and is a last resort for some patients - including the late actress Carrie Fisher.
But since its first use in 1938, Professor Read writes that there are only ten studies comparing ECT with placebo for depression.
Half found no difference, and the other five found a temporary lift in mood - but only during treatment and with no prevention of suicide.
'Despite this lack of evidence psychiatry remains so adamant ECT works that no studies to establish efficacy have been conducted since 1985,' Professor Read said.
Professor Read warned of the risk of memory loss due to the electrical signals 'similar to traumatic brain injury'.
Sue Cunliffe, a case study in the paper, was a paediatrician before having ECT. She said she was told ECT was safe but suffered catastrophic brain injury, leaving her unable to perform basic tasks.'
Read more: Controversial electric shock therapy approved on the NHS to treat depression is not safe and should be stopped, leading researcher argues
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