A member asked:

Are there risks of electroconvulsive therapy?

17 doctors weighed in across 6 answers
Dr. James Fox answered

Specializes in Psychiatry

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.

Answered 9/28/2016

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Dr. Edward Smith answered

Specializes in Neurology

Yes: Although electroconvulsive therapy is generally performed under general anesthetic, the brain may still be damaged. In fact memory loss is a common side-effect. Other cognitive changes may occur.

Answered 10/5/2017

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Dr. Ernest Bordini answered

Specializes in Clinical Psychology, Neuropsychology

Yes -memory loss: In addition to the anesthesia risk, there is risk of memory loss some of which may clear with time, but for a small percentage of patients my actually deteriorate after some early recovery. Since many centers do right-sided memory loss, the spatial memory difficulties can be harder to notice - and many more difficulties are noted on neuropsychological than basic neuro testing. Results vary.

Answered 11/15/2012

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Dr. Alan Ali answered

Specializes in Psychiatry

ECT: Some are confusion, memory loss & physical such as nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle spasms, increase heart rate/blood pressure.

Answered 9/7/2013

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Dr. Lawrence Smith answered

Specializes in Clinical Psychology

There are a few : The most common risks or side effects that could occur with ECT are headache, upset stomach, and muscle aches. Some people may also experience minor memory problems, especially of events or new learning that took place around the time of the treatment (or just after it). These difficulties are usually brief. Etc has been shown to be quite effective in treating severe depression and other symptoms.

Answered 6/10/2014

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Dr. Alan Ali answered

Specializes in Psychiatry

ECT: Some are confusion, memory loss & physical such as nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle spasms, increase heart rate/blood pressure.

Answered 5/25/2015

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