Thursday, April 07, 2011

Electroconvulsive Therapy

First developed in 1938, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for years had a poor reputation with many negative depictions in popular culture. However, the procedure has improved significantly since its initial use and is safe and effective. People who undergo ECT do not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
ECT is usually considered only after a patient's illness has not improved after other treatment options, such as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy, are tried. It is most often used to treat severe, treatment-resistant depression, but occasionally it is used to treat other mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Before ECT is administered, a person is sedated with general anesthesia and given a medication called a muscle relaxant to prevent movement during the procedure. An anesthesiologist monitors breathing, heart rate and blood pressure during the entire procedure, which is conducted by a trained physician. Electrodes are placed at precise locations on the head. Through the electrodes, an electric current passes through the brain, causing a seizure that lasts generally less than one minute.
Scientists are unsure how the treatment works to relieve depression, but it appears to produce many changes in the chemistry and functioning of the brain. Because the patient is under anesthesia and has taken a muscle relaxant, the patient's body shows no signs of seizure, nor does he or she feel any pain, other than the discomfort associated with inserting an IV

A typical course of ECT is administered about three times a week until the patient's depression lifts (usually within six to 12 treatments). After that, maintenance ECT treatment is sometimes needed to reduce the chance that symptoms will return. ECT maintenance treatment varies depending on the needs of the individual, and may range from one session per week to one session every few months. Frequently, a person who underwent ECT will take antidepressant medication or a mood stabilizing medication as well
NIMH

I'm off for ECT myself  for the next few weeks - wish me well.
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