Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Our ECT Treatment Program Offers a Ray of Hope

For more than fifty years, Carrier Clinic® has provided this well-researched and effective treatment option for those suffering from certain mental illnesses. Electroconvulsive Therapy is most often used to treat depression with psychosis, Bipolar Disorder, and treatment-resistant Schizophrenia. It is also helpful in the treatment of other disorders that have not responded to medication, such as Catatonia and chemical imbalances.

One of the largest Electroconvulsive Therapy treatment providers on the East Coast, Carrier Clinic® has a long history in providing life-changing services through these procedures. Carrier Clinic®’s staff are among the most experienced in the field, and use the most modern technology. In addition to our inpatient services we also offer outpatient ECT treatment services. In most cases, an evaluation and treatment can be scheduled within two days.

What to Expect With ECT Treatments

Patients lay down on a bed and are given a muscle relaxant. Monitors are applied to check heart rate and EKG, oxygen level and pulse oximeter, as well as blood pressure. General anesthesia is administered intravenously, so the patient will be unconscious during the procedure. Electrodes are attached to the head, and a small amount of electrical current is introduced in short pulses, producing seizure activity. This causes the brain to produce and use serotonin and norepinephrine–brain chemicals that are low when someone is depressed.

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Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) FAQs

It is a biological treatment where a controlled amount of electrical charge is administered to the front part of the brain that helps certain kinds of psychiatric illness. Extensive research has shown that ECT gives safe, effective, and rapid relief of symptoms for 80%-95% of selected patients.

As patients are unconscious or asleep during ECT, nothing is felt during the procedure and is as safe as any other procedure administered under general anesthesia. In certain situations, it is safer than taking psychotropic substances for mental illnesses. After ECT, patients may experience some side effects including headache, muscle ache, drowsiness, confusion, or nausea. These side effects may last up to a few hours after the treatment but are not cause for alarm or concern.

There is no evidence that Electroconvulsive Therapy causes brain damage.

Many people do report some confusion and memory problems after Electroconvulsive Therapy. Research has shown that this is a side effect for some people, but it is usually limited to events shortly before, during, and a short time after treatment. There is no evidence of any permanent change in overall memory ability, and you will not forget the important people, facts, or values in your life.

ECT treatment is for patients for whom more traditional options like medications have not worked. It is sometimes considered as the first choice of treatment in cases involving severe psychotic depression, malnutrition, and pregnancy.

Treatment is most commonly prescribed for severe depression, where symptoms include:

  • Sad, blue, low mood
  • Altered appetite with weight changes
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Low energy
  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased interest in things that once gave you pleasure
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Increased worrying

The doctor will make this decision based on individual needs and patient response. However, the ECT treatment program usually consists of six to 12 treatments, given up to three times a week. This stimulates the brain to correct imbalances in the brain centers that are responsible for sleep, appetite, mood, and thought processes. The attending psychiatrist monitors patient response and mood to determine the exact number of treatments best suited for each individual. Maintenance therapy is also available to help prevent another episode of depression for patients who experience recurring symptoms.
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