Father and son walking through a Sharp HealthCare campus

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in San Diego

A highly effective treatment for severe depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe, effective and FDA-approved medical treatment for a variety of mental health issues, particularly severe and persistent disorders that have not improved with medications. An exceptionally effective medical treatment, ECT has been shown to improve symptoms in about 80% of participating patients.

ECT is used to treat:

  • Severe depression, including catatonia and psychotic depression

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Severe schizophrenia

  • Severe thoughts of suicide

How ECT works

ECT involves carefully applying brief electrical stimulation to the scalp in order to induce a safe seizure in your brain. The seizure typically lasts 30 to 60 seconds.

At Sharp, ECT is performed by a trained psychiatrist, with assistance from nurses, an anesthesiologist and other clinicians who closely monitor you before, during and after the procedure. Patients receive general anesthesia and are not awake during ECT treatment. You can receive ECT on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

ECT causes changes in brain chemistry that can rapidly reverse symptoms of severe mental health conditions. You will receive ECT two or three times a week for a total of eight to 12 treatments. The number of treatments depends on the severity of your symptoms and how quickly they improve.

Most patients begin to notice an improvement in symptoms after a few ECT treatments. Side effects are minimal and typically include muscle aches, nausea, short-term memory loss and headaches.

Am I eligible for ECT?

To receive ECT treatment, you must be referred by your psychiatrist or physician. Our clinical care teams evaluate each patient to ensure they are good candidates for the procedure.

To reach the ECT department at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, call 619-740-5318. For the Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital ECT department, call 858-836-8390.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

ECT involves carefully applying brief electrical stimulation to the scalp in order to induce a safe seizure in the brain.

ECT services at Sharp HealthCare

ECT treatment is performed at the following locations in San Diego.

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