Electroconvulsive Therapy

Another option for treatment.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a modern medical treatment for certain illnesses that have mental or emotional symptoms. In this treatment, the patient goes to sleep under general anesthesia, receives muscle relaxants and oxygen and then receives a brief electrical stimulation to the scalp.

A blue-ribbon panel convened in 1985 by the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Mental Health found that ECT was “demonstrably effective for a narrow range of severe psychiatric disorders, including depression, mania and schizophrenia.” Some patients do not respond to medications, others cannot tolerate the side effects and still others — those whose illness has made them seriously suicidal, for example — urgently require the reliable symptom relief that ECT can provide.

The dramatization of ECT in movies like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” bears no resemblance to modern ECT, which is neither painful nor a punishment. Most patients surveyed after ECT said that it was no worse than going to the dentist, and many found ECT less stressful.

ECT is an exceptionally effective medical treatment helping 90 percent of patients who participate in it. Most patients remain well for months afterward. Most patients will need to take antidepressant medications for a period of months to maintain the positive effects of ECT.

At Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, ECT is given by a treatment team of doctors, nurses and nursing assistants. Our goal is to do everything we can to restore patients to their optimal mental health.

For More Information
To learn more about electroconvulsive therapy, please call 858-278-4110.