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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for treating mental health disorders

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a treatment to help your brain regulate mood. It is used to treat major depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome and delirium.

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What it is

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) delivers a brief electrical stimulation to your brain while you’re under anesthesia. ECT has been shown to help more than 70 percent of patients who use it as part of their therapy.

ECT may be a treatment option for you if medicine or psychotherapy does not work, if they are too slow to relieve your symptoms or if you previously had successful response to ECT treatments.

Good for treating

ECT may be helpful for treating:

  • major depression
  • bipolar affective disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • neuroleptic malignant syndrome
  • delirium

Good to know

ECT is delivered is given at the hospital. A psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist and a registered nurse are in the room with you during each treatment. After you are asleep, the psychiatrist will give you a brief electrical stimulation delivered through leads on your scalp. This will cause a seizure in your brain. Your body remains still due to the effects of a muscle relaxer. The nurse will monitor you in the recovery area until you wake up.

The number of ECT treatments varies for each patient. In general, a patient may receive two to three treatments a week for a total of three to 12 treatments. If you need more treatments after the initial cycle, you and your psychiatrist will talk about a schedule.

Related links

Source: Allina Health Mental Health
Reviewed by: Allina Health Mental Health

First published: 9/25/2019
Last reviewed: 9/25/2019

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