Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a treatment that is available all over the country. It can be used to treat depression and is safe and effective.
The treatment involves the use of electricity while the patient is under general anesthesia and induces a seizure. This is done in a controlled setting and the patient receives 100 percent oxygen during the seizure, which lasts about 30 seconds.
The seizure causes the brain to release chemicals that we know are reduced in depression such are serotonin, norepinephrine, (also called adrenaline or the “fight or flight” chemical), etc. It is not for everyone and requires an OK for general anesthesia to be administered.
ECT can be used to treat other psychiatric conditions besides depression. It usually takes between 6 and 12 treatments (usually 2-3 treatments per week) and can be done either inpatient or outpatient, depending on the individual health status of the patient and other factors. Short-term memory loss can occur and varies for up to several months before and after the treatments.
Some people remember more than others, but ECT does not erase one's entire memory, prevent the ability to form new memories or change one's personality. Please know that there is a lot of misinformation regarding ECT and talking to a reliable source is important. Again, not everyone is a candidate for this treatment, just like not everyone is a candidate for surgery.