Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT)
Electro Convulsive therapy (ECT or shock therapy) involves the application of an electric shock of about 80 volts passed through electrodes placed on the head. The shock is not felt by the patient, who is under anesthesia. Despite a bad reputation, ECT is a safe and effective therapy for depression. The patient avoids side effects that are frequently encountered with antidepressants, although amnesia and/or dizziness and confusion are possible. Many people who cannot tolerate any other form of treatment may respond well to ECT.
ECT is especially useful for psychotic mood disorders, people who need a really fast response, medication nonresponders, and for those who cannot tolerate antidepressant medication. ECT is indicated when rapid results are vital, as with suicidal patients or those who refuse to eat or drink. ECT has a higher response rate (80 to 90 percent versus the 65 to 70 percent achieved by medication combinations) and also works more rapidly.
Often, ECT is a treatment of last resort when nothing else works.
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