At Mindful Health Solutions, we are dedicated to helping you find relief from your battle with depression. We recommend the most appropriate and evidence-based treatments available that have the highest likelihood of success for you. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe and effective treatment, and it is a good option when medications aren’t tolerated, or other forms of therapy haven’t worked.
How can we help you?
ECT is currently available at our Sacramento Sutter Health location in Sacramento. To learn more, call:
For referrals, please fax to:
What is ECT?
ECT is not an initial treatment plan and is reserved for those who have symptoms that are not responding to other types of procedures, therapy, and medications. ECT is considered the best treatment when depression symptoms are occurring alongside suicidal ideation and/or self-harm.
ECT treatments are administered in a controlled, outpatient setting. During treatment, an electrical current is applied to the scalp to stimulate the brain and intentionally cause a controlled seizure. Thanks to the anesthesia, the process is painless.
What does ECT treat?
ECT is considered the most effective treatment for mood disorders, including major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorder, and treatment-resistant depression. It is “rapidly acting” with some patients reporting significant improvements within two weeks. ECT is found to be especially effective when depression co-occurs with suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm. ECT may be used during pregnancy and is effective for post-partum mood disorders. ECT is very effective and safe for adolescent and older patients with mood disorders as well.
How does ECT work?
The goal of ECT is to stimulate the area of the brain responsible for creating neurotransmitters. Being able to target the source directly allows for progress in the areas that medication and other alternatives can’t reach. ECT directly targets the source through a direct electrical current, which stimulates the brain and triggers a brief seizure.
What does an ECT treatment session look like?
Before the procedure begins, the patient has an IV inserted with general anesthesia to put them to sleep. Once asleep, a direct electric current is sent to the brain to stimulate the area where the depression or mood disorder occurs. During the procedure, the patient’s cardiac and respiratory status is closely monitored by an anesthesiologist, nurse, and psychiatrist. The patient is under anesthesia for only 5-10 minutes total. After they wake up, they are monitored in a recovery room to make sure they are safe, comfortable, and healthy before they go home.
Is ECT safe?
ECT is a safe treatment. ECT is a safe treatment. It is endorsed by the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the US Surgeon General. Around 100,000 patients are treated with ECT every year in the United States. Those thousands of patients experience ECT without complications and can find relief from their severe depression.
ECT treatments are closely monitored by professionals while the patient is under anesthesia, and each step of the process is controlled in a safe and clean hospital environment.
Are there any side effects?
Immediately after ECT treatments, patients may experience common side effects such as:
- Dizziness and imbalance
Most patients will be drowsy and feel “out of it” after their ECT appointment. Patients are always carefully monitored before they are given a ride home. Patients should not drive immediately after their treatment. However, after taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen for any headaches and getting some rest, patients should be fine to return to their normal activities the next day after their appointment.
Patients may experience slight memory difficulty and distorted thinking during the treatment period as well. However, memory issues almost always go away after treatment. Long-term memory loss is significantly less common. For most patients, a small degree of temporary memory difficulty is a reasonable side effect to tolerate given the likelihood of substantial improvement in depressive symptoms.
Your path to treatment
If ECT is an option recommended by your doctor, you will be asked to provide a full medical history as well as a physical, psychiatrist assessment, blood test, and an ECG. These exams help to make sure that the general anesthesia will be safe for you and won’t have any adverse side effects that prevent the procedure from working safely. Our staff will answer any questions you may have and be sure to provide you with detailed instructions and information for your treatment sessions.
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.
All treatment plans at Mindful Health Solutions are customized to each patient. Our talented team of clinicians and support staff is dedicated to working with patients collaboratively to find a treatment plan that works for them. Our goal is to help patients find relief in a way that feels good.
Why Mindful Health Solutions for ECT treatment?
At Mindful Health Solutions, we have the expertise to know if and when ECT may be a treatment option that would work for you. We also have the resources to provide ECT treatments in a safe, comfortable, and clean environment. We are ambitious about finding you not just relief, but joy, and if other treatments have not been working for you, then maybe ECT will.
Overall, we understand the importance of patient-centered care and understand that one size does not fit all when it comes to mental health treatment. Patients respond well to the dynamic menu of treatments we offer, which includes traditional medication management and psychotherapy as well as cutting-edge alternatives.
Mindful Health Solutions also wants to make treatment comfortable and accessible. If patients are unable to physically come into the office or prefer a virtual appointment, Mindful Health Solutions offers telepsychiatry. This allows patients to get care from wherever they are in the state. We also foster a strong culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Our therapists strive to embody a sense of awareness, respect, and humility with regard to cultural differences. And last but not least, we accept most major insurances.