Truth: The early days of electroconvulsive therapy were relatively unfettered and unregulated. "The history of treatment is pretty dramatic and grim," Dr. Kennedy says.
Today, however, the procedure is typically used for just a few conditions and performed under medical supervision. Patients are given general anesthesia before the treatment and a muscle relaxer to ensure that the seizure is mild. One study found that there were about 2.9 deaths per 10,000 patients treated. Another saw only 4.5 deaths per 100,000 treatments.