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Overview

ECT is administered by medical professionals, usually the psychiatrist and an anaesthetist in a hospital setting. A physical examination and tests are done by physicians before considering ECT to determine any other medical issues the individual may have in order for ECT to be a safe procedure. The individual may experience relief from depressive symptoms after about 4-6 sessions. This is relatively faster than other treatment options such as psychiatric medications which may take several weeks to show effect. Even after the initial relief with ECT, relapses of depressive symptoms are potential.

Moreover, the individual may be suggested to consider psychiatric medications and/or therapy as a form of treatment. Repeated ECT follow up sessions could be considered for individuals with severe depression who have shown a positive response to previous ECT treatment. However, ECT may not be effective for everyone, in which case psychiatrists and other professionals would need to look into other treatment options.
EXPERT TALKS

Depression Psychiatry: What is it and how can it help you?

PATIENTS RECOVERY STORIES

Living with Depression and Overcoming Them: Survivor Stories

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Is Electroconvulsive therapy for Depression safe?

Yes, Electroconvulsive therapy is considered a generally safe form of treatment now, although some side effects such as confusion, physical side effects, etc. can temporarily occur. This is why before conducting ECT, medical professionals engage in tests to ensure that it is safe to be administered for the individual. The stigma to ECT treatment comes from earlier times when high doses of electricity were administered without any anaesthesia, which led to fractured bones, memory loss, and other serious side effects. However, ECT now is much safer with lower doses of electric current administered in a controlled setting, and is only done as a last resort of treatment for depression.

Who is considered for ECT treatment?

When a person is in the most severe form of depression, and not in a mental state to undertake therapy or when psychiatric medications are not helpful, especially when the person’s life is at risk, ECT is considered as a treatment option for depression. In other cases, therapy and psychiatric medications (if required) are considered to be sufficient and effective forms of treatment for depression.

How many numbers of sessions are required?

It depends on the severity of the depression and how effective it is on the person. People may have 6-12 sessions done 2-3 per week over many weeks. After that, usually psychiatric medications along with therapy is recommended to prevent depression symptoms from returning.