Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a medical procedure in which a small, carefully controlled amount of electric current is passed through the brain to treat symptoms associated with certain mental disorders. The electric current produces a convulsion for the relief of symptoms associated with such mental illnesses as major depressive disorder , bipolar disorder , acute psychosis , and catatonia .
Today, with the introduction of improved safety procedures, ECT is a remarkably safe and highly effective procedure. It is performed in both inpatient and outpatient facilities in specially equipped rooms with oxygen, suction, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation equipment readily available to deal with the rare emergency.
Patients qualify for ECT if they:
- Cannot tolerate, or receive no significant benefit from medications
- Have responded well to ECT treatments during past psychiatric episodes
- Face a greater risk from taking medicines than from undergoing ECT
Need treatment without delay to avoid suicide or other self-destructive acts