Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a procedure in which direct current is applied to stimulate the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. The treatment is administered to patients under general anesthesia and given in a controlled, outpatient setting to achieve the most benefit with the fewest possible side effects. ECT is considered the best treatment option when other forms of therapy have not worked.
ECT treatments are generally given three times weekly for three to four weeks. Most people require 6 to 12 treatments, although up to 20 or more treatments are needed in some cases during the initial phases of treatment. The number of treatments will depend on the severity of symptoms and how rapidly symptoms improve. Your physician will determine your treatment plan with your input.
ECT is a safe treatment. During the procedure, the patient’s cardiac and respiratory status is closely monitored by an anesthesiologist, nursing and your psychiatrist. In total a patient is asleep for 5 to 10 minutes. Patients are monitored in the recovery room and then released. Thousands of patients receive ECT each year in the United States without complications. A safe and supportive environment is provided for patients receiving ECT treatments and their families supporting them during and after the treatments. Detailed instructions are supplied to each patient for before and aftercare.