Two of the most popular types of electrical shock treatments are electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, and vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS, according to WebMD. ECT is one of the most effective and safest treatment options for severely depressed or suicidal patients.
In ECT, after a patient is put under anesthesia, an electric current is applied to the scalp, causing a brief seizure in the brain, states WebMD.
VNS is used to treat patients with epilepsy who haven't responded well to medications that prevent seizures, explains Mayo Clinic. Like ECT, VNS is also approved for the treatment of chronic, severe depression. VNS treatment is achieved through a pacemarker-like device being surgically implanted in the brain, which omits electrical signals that simulate the vagus nerve.