Electroconvulsive therapy is a treatment for depression that uses electricity to trigger a seizure.
Shock treatment; ECT
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is most often done in a hospital's operating or recovery room while you are asleep and pain-free (general anesthesia).
Because general anesthesia is used for this procedure, you will be advised to not eat or drink before ECT.
Ask your health care provider whether you should take any daily medications in the morning before ECT.
Some people report mild confusion and headache after ECT. Hospital staff will monitor you closely after the procedure to make sure that you recover completely.
ECT is a highly effective treatment for depression, most commonly severe depression. It can be especially helpful for treating depression in patients who:
It is also used to treat bipolar disorder, people who are rigid and not responsive (catatonic), and some psychotic disorders.
Possible side effects from ECT include:
Some medical conditions place patients at greater risk for side effects of ECT. Discuss any such conditions or concerns with your health care provider when deciding whether ECT is right for you.
Frederikse M, Petrides G, Kellner C. Continuation and maintenance electroconvulsive therapy for the treatment of depressive illness: a response to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence report. J ECT. 2006;22:13-17.
Kellner CH, Knapp RG, Petrides G, et al. Continuation electroconvulsive therapy vs pharmacotherapy for relapse prevention in major depression: a multisite study from the Consortium for Research in Electroconvulsive Therapy (CORE). Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63:1337-1344.
Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Health Care Guideline: Major Depression in Adults in Primary Care. 10th ed. May 2007.
Review Date: 8/24/2008
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