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Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

In recent years, medicine has vastly improved the diagnosis and treatment options available for those suffering from mental illness. New therapies and medications have helped countless people recover from debilitating psychiatric problems that were previously thought untreatable. Despite these advances, not everyone experiences the same success. Electroconvulsive Therapy is an option for patients who have not responded to traditional therapies and medication.

What is Electroconvulsive Therapy?

Electroconvulsive Therapy is a treatment for adults 18 years and older who suffer from severe episodes of major depression, persistent suicidal ideation, mania and some types of schizophrenia and who have either not responded to medications or whose symptoms are too severe to permit medication trials. The procedure occurs two to three times a week for a total of six to 12 treatments.

Is ECT Effective?

Electroconvulsive Therapy has been proven to be a useful treatment method with more than half of severely treatment-resistant patients achieving remission, according to the National Institutes of Health. Still, there is no guarantee that ECT will be effective. Your doctor will discuss with you why ECT inpatient or ECT outpatient therapy is being recommended and what alternative treatments may be available.

Is ECT Safe?

Prior to Electroconvulsive Therapy, patients will undergo a physical and psychiatric evaluation to ensure that the treatments can be administered in the most effective manner. Medications may be adjusted to minimize risk and maximize effectiveness. However, all treatments have risks and side effects. The most common side effects of ECT include muscle aches, nausea, short-term memory loss and headaches.

Am I Eligible for ECT?

There are risks associated with any treatment procedure and individual results may vary. Please consult the dedicated professionals within the ECT program at The Carolina Center for Behavioral Health to assess if you are a candidate for ECT therapy. Our Medical Staff will also consult with you on the risks and benefits of ECT treatment if you are a suitable candidate.

All patient referrals to the ECT program must be medically cleared by a professional prior to an initial consultation with our staff. During the consultation, we will fully explain ECT and what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

We encourage all professionals to call our Assessment staff directly with any referrals to our programs. Our ECT Coordinator will follow up on all ECT inquiries.

To help determine if ECT is an appropriate course of treatment, please be prepared to share the following information with our staff:

  • Brief history of present illness and symptoms
  • Justification for ECT treatment
  • Psychiatric and substance abuse history
  • Medical history
  • Allergies
  • Previous medication trials
  • Current medications
  • Mental status exam results
  • Patient assets and strengths
  • Pertinent labs
  • Signature of a referring psychiatrist

A complete outpatient ECT referral form will be provided by the ECT Coordinator.

How Does ECT work?

At Carolina Center for Behavioral Health, Electroconvulsive Therapy is performed by a team of medical professionals specifically trained in its delivery. This team consists of a psychiatrist, anesthesiologist and nursing staff. The psychiatrist commonly delivers the ECT stimulation. The anesthesia team administers general anesthesia, medications and monitors the patient’s medical status throughout the procedure. After the treatment, nursing staff will continue to monitor the patient’s progress until they return to the inpatient or outpatient unit.

What to Expect after ECT?

While Electroconvulsive Therapy is an extremely effective treatment, it is only one component of a complete treatment regimen. After your ECT course, medications will likely be required as maintenance therapy to help prevent a return of your illness. ECT cannot resolve other problems associated with personal relationships or how an individual copes with the stressors of life. Other interventions such as psychotherapy may be recommended.

Learn More About ECT

There are risks associated with any treatment procedure and individual results may vary. Please consult the dedicated professionals within the ECT program at Carolina Center for Behavioral Health to assess if you are a candidate for ECT treatment. Our Medical Staff will also consult with you on the risks and benefits of ECT treatment if you are a suitable candidate.