Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT ) is a well-established and effective psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anesthetized patients for therapeutic effect. It seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can immediately reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses.

ECT is indicated for any of the disorders in the list below, provided that one or more of the following conditions are met: imminent risk of death, inanition or malnutrition to the point where survival for long enough to allow other treatments to be successful is not ensured, resistance to other treatments, inability to tolerate other treatments, or patient preference.

Indications for ECT include major depression associated with active desire to commit suicide, psychosis (detachment from reality), or the refusal to eat; severe mania (intense euphoria, agitation, or hyperactivity that occurs as part of bipolar disorder); catatonia (characterized by lack of movement, fast or strange movements, lack of speech, and other symptoms; also associated with schizophrenia and some other psychiatric disorders); schizophrenia (particularly when accompanied by psychosis, a desire to commit suicide or to hurt someone else, or refusal to eat); delirium; Parkinson’s disease (for the motor symptoms of the disease). Electroconvulsive

Some relative contraindications to ECT are intracranial lesions (e.g., tumors, subdural hematoma, infarction, aneurysms), retinal detachment, and untreated glaucoma.

Pre-ECT evaluation includes physical examination; routine labs (including EKG); further labs, as indicated (e.g., brain imaging, other x rays).

The recommended frequency of treatments is 3 times weekly for two to four weeks for a total of 6 to 12 treatments. Electroconvulsive

Problems remembering events that occurred before or shortly after treatment usually improve within a couple of months.

ECT is a safe and effective evidence-based medical treatment

Ana C. Posada-Diaz, MD  Psychiatrist

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