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Can ECT Treat My Depression?

For many suffering from depression, finding the right combination of medication can be a struggle. Some are prescribed medication for months, only to have their prescription changed, increased, or changed completely because their body rejected the medication. During this process, depressive episodes can seem like a lifetime of misery. Luckily, alterative treatment options can help if your depression has become resistant to medication.

What Is ECT?

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) has been used for some time and is generally considered “re-setting” the brain. ECT is often used to treat severe clinical depression and is often used for people with symptoms like hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, or delusions. ECT can be applied when other treatments like psychotherapy and antidepressants do not work. Some other psychiatric or neurological conditions like Parkinson's disease or schizophrenia can also be treated with ECT. During the treatment, electric currents pass through the brain to initiate a short and controlled seizure. ECT can be shown to change brain chemistry, and in turn, begin to reverse the symptoms of several different mental illnesses.

How ECT Works

ECT treatment can be similar to having surgery. You're put into a gown and taken into a surgical area, but you’re also hooked into machines that monitor blood pressure, heart rate, and other important vital signs. After the muscle relaxant and anesthetic are administered by the anesthesiologist, you’re asked to breathe deeply while the treatment takes its effects. Once you are unconscious, the treatment starts. You are given a careful seizure at your bedside that is carefully monitored by the doctors. When the seizure is over, medications are administered to help you wake back up. Once awake, your vitals are carefully monitored and tracked. After a sufficient period of recovery you may return home and rest. Studies have shown that ECT works for many people who have treatment-resistant depression. A study conducted by the medical journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia found 71% of people who received ECT had a positive response to treatment. Though the treatment can work quickly, about 50% of those who receive it will relapse within several months. Doctors typically advise a medication plan and periodic “maintenance” ECT sessions to help prevent relapse.

Want to learn more about ECT and other alternative treatments? For more information, contact our team of Chico mental health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions. Let us help you live life in balance.