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Electroconvulsive Therapy, or ETC


When rapid lifting of the depression is deemed necessary to prevent suicide, electroconvulsive therapy may be a treatment of choice.

When a depressed patient is incapadtated, suiddal, or psychotically depressed or when antidepressants are contraindicated or ineffective, ECT commonly is the treatment of choice for depression. Usually, 6 to 12 treatments are needed, although in many cases improvement is evident after only a few treatments. Even so, ECT has been associated with later short term memory loss, arrhythmias, and seizure activity. Researchers hypothesize that ECT affects the same receptor sites as antidepressants.

There are some people who because of severe physical illness are unable to tolerate the side-effects of the medications used to treat mood disorders.

In studies of people treated with electroconvulsive therapy it has been found that 80% of such people report that they were helped by the treatments. About 75% say that ECT is no more frightening than going to the dentist.

How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works?

ECT works by sending an electrical charge to the brain that causes a brief and controlled seizure. Although it may sound frightening, patients receive it while under general anesthesia, and awaken with no memory of the procedure.

A series of ECTs usually consists of six to twelve treatments over several weeks. Many complain of memory loss following ECT.

Headaches, muscle soreness, nausea, and confusion are possible side effects immediately following an ECT procedure. Memory loss, typically transient, has also been reported in ECT patients. ECT causes severe memory problems for months or years in one out of every 200 patients treated.

Information on Electroconvulsive therapy, or ETC

Although the use of ECT is declining in the UK, it is still the treatment of choice in severe life-threatening depressive illness, particularly when psychotic symptoms are present. It is sometimes essential treatment when the patient is dangerously suicidal or refusing to eat and drink. The treatment involves the passage of an electric current across two electrodes applied to the anterior temporal areas of the scalp, in order to induce an epileptic fit. The fit is the essential part of the treatment. Before the treatment is given, the patient is given a general anaesthetic and receives a muscle relaxant to prevent injury during the fit. Treatments are normally given twice a week for 3-6 weeks.

Other important points on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

ECT is a controversial treatment, yet it is remarkably safe and free of serious side-effects. Postictal confusion and headache are not uncommon, but transient. Short-term retrograde amnesia and a temporary defect in new learning can occur during the weeks of treatment, but these are short-lived effects.

Generally speaking ECT is used as a 'last resort', especially on children and adolescents, and only after all other first-line therapies and treatments have failed to help.

I have had a series of 12 ECT treatments in 3 months.  These ECT treatments saved my life.  I had temporary short term memory loss after recieving 6 treatments in 2 weeks which only lasted 2 days and fully recovered. I then compleated the other 6 treatments over 2 month period of time. I have not had any treatments in 2 months. I was able to go off of 3 antidepressant medications that I had been on for 3 1/2 years.  I am currently on 1 dose of 25mg Seroquel at night, this is the only medication I take now.  I have been stable since December 2 1/2 months.  I have been promoted to every 90 day appointments with my pyschiatrist and every 2 weeks with my therapist.  I had been going once a month to pyschiatrist     and every week to therapist for the last 2 1/2 years. So this is quite an accomplishment.  I am no longer having suicidal ideation (thoughts) I don't have any suicidal thoughts at this time.  I no longer am depressed, I am able to do things I had been unable to do for 3 1/2 years.  I am looking forward to going back to work in a month part time.  I have not worked for 4 years due to depression and have been on disablity.  My therapist and family, friends say that I am the best that I've been since depression and PTSD took its hold on me 4 years ago.  ECT has been a livesaver for me with little side effects.  the end result was well worth the confusion I experienced for 2 days.  I am very grateful that I was chosen to recieve ECT treaments. I praise God every day for this opportunity and pray that others may also have the wonderful results that I did. Thank you to my doctors and all of those whom helped me through the ECT treaments.  I welcome others input on their experience with ECT treatments and wish you all well in your struggle to overcome depression. Thanks for listening. -- Laurel A. Snide ( 3/01/2006 )

I agree with you 100 percent about ect treatments. I am taking with right now i've had 7 so far. I hope and pray to Gog that this is all i will have to take. I am going to see my pyschiatrist on April 20 of this year. The doctor that did my ect treatment told my husband that my seizure was very short. He said i should have left off some of my medicine. -- Carol Munn

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