Using electricity to elicit a seizure as a means of treating severe depressive illness must seem perplexing, if not frankly bizarre, to people who have no experience of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), but ECT remains a treatment with a useful and important role in modern psychiatric practice. In contrast, the use of pills to treat depression carries little stigma, is widely accepted, indeed often expected, and the name of at least one current antidepressant has entered our everyday language. The BBC website 1 has an article on ‘Prozac for pooches’ to greet the launch of ‘a new drug to treat dogs suffering from depression’, and elsewhere we learn that ‘an Environment Agency report suggests so many people are taking the drug (i.e. Prozac) nowadays it is building up in rivers and groundwater’. 2 A trawl of the Internet rapidly reveals that, unlike the antidepressant referred to above, stigma and controversy still cling to ECT after over 60 years of research and practice. It is vitally important that mental health professionals are clear about the role of ECT, in order to make it available to patients when appropriate, and to assist them in being open and informative with patients and their families who are considering this treatment option.