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A 40-year-old member asked:

what is electroconvulsive therapy?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Ankush Bansal
Internal Medicine 17 years experience
Resetting brain: Ect is a controlled therapy in which electrical shocks are introduced into both temples to "reset' the brain. A brief seizure is induced to reset the brain. The hope is that the neurotransmitters in the brain will be released in the right ratios to "fix" depression.
Dr. James Fox
Psychiatry 14 years experience
Treats depression: Ect treats depression - about 60% of those who receive treatment are not depressed at the end of treatment. During the procedure, patient's are put to sleep and paralyzed for about 5 minutes. During this time, an electrical signal causes a seizure which lasts from 20 sec to 2 min. Upon waking, there is some disorientation lasting up to 15 to 30min. Memory loss depends on electrode placement.

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A 24-year-old member asked:

Is electroconvulsive therapy (ect) effective?

2 doctor answers5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Anthony Mosley
Neurology 24 years experience
Yes: Can be very effective for depression, but it is of course a fairly drastic measure with adverse effects.
CA
A 23-year-old member asked:

Is there an ethics of electroconvulsive therapy?

3 doctor answers7 doctors weighed in
Dr. James Fox
Psychiatry 14 years experience
Yes: Every physician takes an oath: "first, do no harm". Ect is traditionally reserved for the most severe and intractable forms of psychiatric illness and is most effective in treating depression. Patients with certain medical conditions are excluded (including heart problems among others) and every patient is given informed consent where the benefits and risks of treatment are explained.
A 28-year-old member asked:

Are there risks of electroconvulsive therapy?

6 doctor answers17 doctors weighed in
Dr. James Fox
Psychiatry 14 years experience
Several risks: Anesthesia carries a risk including allergy and cardiac arrest but no more so than any other procedure. Ect risks include headache, short term disorientation, and memory impairment. This may be mitigated by electrode placement. Right unilateral has very little memory impairment & recovery is quicker. Some degree of memory loss is common with bilateral placement & may be significant.
CA
A 42-year-old member asked:

Which conditions does electroconvulsive therapy treat?

2 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. James Fox
Psychiatry 14 years experience
Depression + more: Ect is the most potent treatment for both bipolar and major depression. Persons with bipolar depression respond more rapidly, requiring about 1/2 as many treatments to completely improve. ~60% of depressed individuals who undergo ECT remit. 50% will relapse in 6mos, though. Ect is used to treat severe psychotic illness but is less effective. There is research into treating Parkinson's with it.
A 30-year-old member asked:

Is electroconvulsive therapy effective?

1 doctor answer5 doctors weighed in
Dr. William Goldie
Pediatric Neurology 48 years experience
In severe cases: Electroshock therapy is considered as a last ditch treatment for severe depression. It is still available in special centers, but is highly regulated. When done properly, it can have remarkable benefit. If done poorly, is a major problem. Refer to one flew over the cuckoo's nest!

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Last updated Sep 28, 2016

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