When medication fails to ease the symptoms of clinical depression, there are other options. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be used to treat severe depression and major depression that have proven resistant to treatment.
It’s safe. ECT is safe and one of the most effective treatments available. It’s also one of the fastest ways to relieve symptoms in severely depressed or suicidal people. It also is very effective for people who suffer from bipolar disorder, catatonia and some psychotic states.
Although ECT has been used since the 1940s, it is sometimes misunderstood by the general public. Some media coverage has contributed to a controversy about this treatment. It’s a misconception that ECT is used as a “quick fix” in place of long-term therapy or an inpatient stay. Also incorrect is a belief that the patient is painfully “shocked” out of depression.
It’s painless. In fact, prior to ECT treatment, a patient is given a muscle relaxant and put to sleep with general anesthesia. Patients are carefully monitored. Electrodes are placed on the person’s scalp and a finely controlled electric stimulus is applied. This results in a seizure. But because the muscles are relaxed, the visible effects of the seizure usually are limited to slight movements of the hands and feet. The patient awakens minutes later, not remembering the treatment.
It’s state-of-the-art. Park Royal Hospital has a six-bed ECT suite equipped with the most current technology and staffed with a specially trained team.