Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been in continuous use worldwide for over 80 years. There are few treatments in all of medicine that can make such a claim. Despite its long record of safety and efficacy, ECT remains poorly understood by the general public. ECT is a modern, mainstream medical procedure and roughly 100,000 patients receive ECT in the United States every year.
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.
Because the treatment requires general anesthesia, ECT treatments must be done in a hospital setting. This is another reason why it is reserved for only severe and life-threatening conditions.
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.
This modern ECT technique has significantly decreased or eliminated most of the troublesome side effects previously associated with this treatment. It is a safe and effective procedure and is considered the best therapy option when others have not worked.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure reserved for those suffering from severe cases of major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar mood disorders. In order for ECT to become a treatment option for a patient, their depression must be categorized as treatment-resistant depression (TRD). TRD means that the patient has not found success, or relief of their depression symptoms, through medications or antidepressants. As a result, alternative treatment options are considered to help them find relief.
Typically, patients try alternative treatment options such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy or esketamine nasal spray before being recommended ECT as a treatment plan. ECT is considered the best therapy option when others have not worked and is also considered the most effective form of treatment when severe depression coexists with ideas of suicide and or self-harm. It is considered almost as a last resort because it is a more intensive treatment than antidepressants, TMS, and esketamine, but it does have an amazing success rate. 75-83% of patients experienced relief from their symptoms following a course of ECT treatment.