(Therapy, Electroconvulsive; ECT)
|During ECT, an electronic current is delivered to the brain.|
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Reasons for Procedure
- Severe depression that does not respond to medication or that causes serious symptoms, like psychosis and suicidal thoughts
- Severe mania that does not respond to medication
- Short-term changes in blood pressure and heart rate
- Short-term abnormal heart rate
- Muscle aches or soreness
- Cognitive impairment, such as problems with thinking and memory, usually go away after a couple of weeks. In some cases, memory problems may last for several months.
- Having a history of heart problems, stroke , or high blood pressure
- Pregnancy—this form of therapy may increase the risk of complications in the fetus
- Not responding well to medication
- Increased age
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Do a physical exam
- Do a complete medical and psychological history
- Ask you about any medications you are taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Have tests done, which may include blood tests, an electrocardiogram , and imaging of the brain
- Have you meet with an anesthesiologist
- Give you instructions about not eating or drinking before the procedure
Description of Procedure
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Call Your Doctor
- Worsening of symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness or helplessness and thoughts of suicide—If you have thoughts of suicide, call your doctor or therapist right away.
- Confusion and memory loss that lasts longer than expected
- Headache, muscle aches, or soreness that lasts longer than expected
- Any new symptoms or concerns
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance http://www.dbsalliance.org
Mental Health America http://www.nmha.org
Canadian Mental Health Association http://www.ontario.cmha.ca
Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org
Depression: how electroconvulsive therapy works. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/depression/treatment/how-electroconvulsive-therapy-works.html . Updated September 2012. Accessed June 26, 2013.
Electroconvulsive therapy. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/treatment/electroconvulsive-therapy-ect . Accessed June 26, 2013.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). El Camino Hospital website. Available at: http://www.elcaminohospital.org/Programs%5Fand%5FServices/Behavioral%5FHealth/Electroconvulsive%5FTherapy . Accessed June 26, 2013.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated May 11, 2013. Accessed June 26, 2013.
Kellner CH, et al. ECT in treatment-resistant depression. Am J Psychiatry . 2012;169:1238-44.
5/13/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Semkovska M, McLoughlin DM. Objective cognitive performance associated with electroconvulsive therapy for depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Biol Psychiatry . 2010;68(6):568-577.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD; Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 06/2013 -
- Update Date: 05/11/2013 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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