Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): Mechanism, Benefits and Side Effects
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and the George Westin protocol is a powerful but effective therapeutic treatment refined in the 1970’s which uses small electric currents to induce brief seizure activity in the brain. This induction of an artificial seizure under light anesthesia causes temporary but sometimes permanent improvement or cure of many psychiatric illnesses and conditions. To experienced users, electroconvulsive therapy can mean a permanent as opposed to a temporary improvement.
Electro convulsive therapy
Electro convulsive therapy, or ECT, is a form of treatment that involves sending an electric current to the brain in order to trigger an epileptic seizure (also called a fit).
ECT is usually carried out under general anaesthetic. This means you will be asleep when the procedure takes place.
The aim of ECT is to treat certain mental health conditions. It is generally only used for people with more severe depression after other treatments have not worked.
It is also sometimes used for people with acute episodes of mania (where a person will feel extremely high and can experience psychosis) caused by bipolar disorder, or people with severe schizophrenia.
How does electro-convulsive therapy work?
Electro-convulsive therapy, or ECT as it is more commonly known, has been around for a long time. These days, it’s most often used to treat depression and the benefits usually last for some time after treatment stops.
ECT involves passing electric currents through the brain to induce a seizure. ECT is usually given under general anaesthetic and involves an injection of muscle relaxant to prevent damage caused by convulsing. It’s considered safe when administered by trained professionals in clinical settings.
ECT was first introduced in the 1930s, but its origins go back to the early 1800s when it was discovered that people with mental health problems could be treated by inducing seizures in their bodies.
It was first used to treat people with severe depression who weren’t responding well to other treatments, as well as those with manic depression (bipolar disorder).
What happens during electro-convulsive therapy?
Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) involves passing a small electrical current through the brain. This produces a short epileptic fit, which may help with some mental health problems.
Before electro-convulsive therapy can be carried out, you’ll need to have an assessment and give your consent.
You’ll be given a general anaesthetic and a muscle relaxant so you don’t move during the procedure. The muscle relaxant stops you from having convulsions (fits).
Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques can also help alleviate treatment-resistant depression.
Is electro-convulsive therapy always used as a treatment for depression?
That’s an interesting question. Many people who haven’t experienced mental illness are scared of ECT because of how it’s been portrayed in movies, but the procedure has changed a lot since those days.
Electro-convulsive therapy, or ECT, is a highly controversial treatment for depression. It’s the most effective treatment for people who are suicidal and have not responded to other treatments including antidepressants, psychotherapy and hospitalization.
It’s also used when someone is psychotic or catatonic and when medications can’t be given because of health reasons. It may be used in older adults as well as people with other medical conditions such as heart disease or cancer.
In ECT, electrodes are placed on the scalp and send electric currents to the brain. These electrical currents cause a seizure that lasts about 30 seconds. This seizure changes brain chemistry which can help improve symptoms of depression, mania and psychosis. The procedure is usually done while you’re asleep under general anesthesia, so you don’t feel any pain during ECT treatment.
ECT has its benefits but can be dangerous if not monitored properly
ECT is the most effective treatment of major depression in those who are severely ill. It is also useful for treating other psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and postpartum or postnatal psychosis.
The procedure is done under general anesthesia. Once the patient is unconscious, a muscle relaxant may be given to prevent injury from violent convulsions during seizure. The patient’s brainwaves are monitored closely to monitor the progress of the treatment.
The patient receives a series of treatments over a 4-week period. For those who respond, several more treatments may be necessary to maintain symptom relief.
Here are seven major benefits that electroconvulsive therapy provides patients who suffer from depression/bipolar disorder. While ECT has been around for some time, the use of this treatment is not widespread. Hopefully with increasing evidence-based studies regarding ECT, patients and physicians can work together to address the treatment option of ECT in fighting depression.