What is Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)?
ECT, also known as shock therapy, is a medical treatment for those with severe mental health conditions. This therapeutic approach involves applying electrical currents to a person’s brain, causing them to experience a controlled seizure which can have beneficial effects. ECT is used to treat depression and other disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, especially when medications aren’t relieving symptoms.
How Does ECT Work?
ECT is administered by a mental health professional, usually a psychiatrist. Before treatment, the patient is given anesthesia, so that they are asleep throughout the procedure and don’t feel any pain or discomfort. The medical team then delivers electrical currents to the patient’s brain, causing a seizure, which can last from just a few seconds to a few minutes.
What are the Benefits of ECT?
ECT can provide relief from symptoms faster than medications, as it starts to take effect more quickly. This can be particularly helpful for those with severe mental health conditions, who may not have the luxury of waiting weeks or months to feel better.
ECT has been demonstrated to be highly effective in treating depression, bipolar disorder, and other severe mental health conditions. Studies have found that it can reduce symptoms by 70-90%, often after two or three treatments.
More Suitable for Some Patients
Some patients may not be able to take, or won’t respond to, medications. ECT is an effective alternative for these individuals, as long as it is deemed medically appropriate.
What are the Risks Involved in ECT?
Although ECT is an effective treatment for severe mental health conditions, it does carry some risks. The most common side effects include confusion, headaches, muscle aches, and nausea, although these usually clear up soon after the procedure. It can also lead to more serious side effects such as memory loss, but this is rare.
For some people with severe mental health conditions, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) can be a life-saving treatment. It is effective, fast-acting, and can provide relief when medications are not effective. However, ECT does come with certain risks and should only be used when deemed medically appropriate by a mental health professional.