Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a proven, effective, and sometimes lifesaving intervention used in patients with severe mental illness who do not respond well to treatments such as medication or psychotherapy. ECT is used for the short-term relief of major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. For severe mental illnesses – those accompanied by psychosis or catatonia – ECT can act more rapidly and effectually than psychotropic medications. For patients who are physically debilitated, elderly, or pregnant, ECT is also safer than psychotropic medications.
ECT involves a brief electrical stimulation to the brain. A patient typically receives ECT 2 to 3 times a week for a total of 6 to 12 treatments, depending on the severity of the symptoms and how quickly the patient responds. Refinements in the ECT technique such as anesthesia, oxygenation, muscle relaxants, and seizure monitoring have increased the safety and patient acceptability of ECT.
Before beginning ECT treatment, the patient receives a thorough psychiatric assessment and medical examination. Patients and their families are provided with information to ensure that they fully understand the procedure and the potential benefits, risks, and side effects of all treatment options before providing written consent.
Books on ECT and Other Brain Stimulation Therapies
American Psychiatric Publishing (APPI), a division of American Psychiatric Publishing, publishes books and clinical manuals for psychiatrists on how to establish and maintain a successful ECT program and provide essential education and training to support staff.
View a complete list of books related to brain stimulation therapies