Ect (Electroconvulsive therapy)

Ect (Electroconvulsive therapy)

In this brief article, we will be discussing the meaning of electroconvulsive therapy, electroconvulsive therapy for depression and more information about electroconvulsive therapy.

An overview of ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy)

ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) is a kind of psychological intervention that is more intrusive than other talking therapies or medical treatments where the client is placed on a bed where he or she is tied to it and electrical impulses will travelling in his or her body.

This kind of therapy has been used for people who are suffering from severe depression that they feel compelled to do suicide which needs immediate stabilization. 

The detrimental suicidal behaviours of the client can cause so much distress to the client’s family that ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) is being prescribed by the client’s doctor.

This kind of therapy is only administered to the mental health professional who is trained in giving this kind of therapy.

Psychiatrists are often the administrators of ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy).

Also, the first assessment of this kind of therapy will let the psychiatrist know the client’s loved ones about what goes on in this kind of therapy such as giving the anaesthesia to the client which will make him or her feel less pain in the midst of this therapy. 

ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) is given to affected clients for 6 to 12 sessions in a week. 

Ect (Electroconvulsive therapy)

Psychological uses of ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy)

ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) has been an effective psychological intervention for people with various serious psychological disorders.

Here are some of the psychological disorders that this kind of therapy can treat:

  • Severe depression, specifically when the patient has the associating symptom of detachment from reality or psychosis and a need to commit suicide or not wanting to eat.
  • Treatment-resistant depression, which is a severe depression that doesn’t go into remission even with psychotropic medications or other psychological treatments.
  • Severe mania is a state of extreme euphoria, hyperactivity or agitation that happens as part of bipolar disorder. Other symptoms and signs of this kind of mood episode include impaired decision-making, substance abuse, impulsive behaviour, and psychosis.
  • Catatonia is characterized by lack of movement, lack of speech, fast or erratic actions and other catatonic symptoms. This kind of psychotic symptom is related to schizophrenia and other specific psychological disorders. In some instances, this kind of psychotic symptom is triggered by a medical condition.
  • Agitation and erratic aggression in people with dementia which can be hard to treat and negatively impact the affected patient’s quality of life.

ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) is one of the medical procedures that will be prescribed to patients if they have shown no improvement form psychotropic medications or other psychotherapies.

This kind of therapy has also been used to cure the following:

  • In the midst of pregnancy, when medications can’t be consumed because they might endanger the developing fetus
  • In older adults who can’t accept the medication’s side effects
  • In people who prefer ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) treatments over consuming medications
  • When ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) has been effective in the past

Risks of going through ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy)

Most doctors would say that ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) is secure for affected patients but risks and side effects have been reported which are the following:

  • Confusion. Directly after ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy), you may experience the side effect of confusion which can take as long as a few minutes to several hours. You may not know where you are or why you’re there at the moment. At seldom times, confusion may take as long as several days or longer. Confusion is overall more observable in older adults who engage in this kind fo therapy.
  • Memory lapses. Some people have difficulty recalling experiences that happened right before ECT or in the last few weeks or months before this kind of treatment or, in seldom instances, from former years. This kind of mental health condition is called retrograde amnesia. You may also have difficulty remembering experiences that happened during the weeks of your engagement in this kind of treatment. For most people, these memory concerns often develop within a couple of months after treatment ends.
  • Physiological side effects. During the days of the process of ECT, some people reported side effects like nausea, jaw ache, headache or muscle pain. These kinds of side effects can be treated with medications that are effective against these kinds of side effects.
  • Medical complications in the midst of ECT. As with any form of medical procedure, especially one that includes anaesthesia, there are dangerous tendencies of medical difficulties. During ECT, the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure enhance and in some instances, this kind of situation can lead to chronic heart complications. If you have heart difficulties, this kind of therapy may be more dangerous for you.

You can learn more about the potential risks of ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) by buying this book on this website.

Ect (Electroconvulsive therapy)

What you should prepare before going to ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy)

When you are about to get your ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy), you will be assessed using the following tests:

  • Medical history
  • Full physical exam
  • Psychiatric assessment
  • Fundamental blood tests
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) to assess your heart state
  • Discussion of the dangerous risks of anaesthesia

The results of these kinds of examinations will help the doctor realize if ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) is right and safe for you.

What you should expect from an ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy)?

ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) takes about 5 to 10 minutes of briefing time for the patient who is about to take this kind of treatment.

This kind of therapy upholds safety procedures that will make sure that the patient gets treated for his or her mental health symptoms.

Before the ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) procedure

You need to do the following before the ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) procedure:

  • You’ll have overall anaesthesia. So you can expect dietary limitations before the ECT procedure. Usually, this means no food or water after midnight and only a small sip of water to take any morning medical or psychotropic medications. Your health care team will give you certain instructions before your engagement in this procedure.
  • You may have a short physical exam. This is when your health care team assesses your heart and lungs.
  • You’ll have an intravenous line or IV penetrated. Your nurse or other team member penetrates an IV tube into your arm or hand through which medical or psychotropic medications or fluids can be given and taken.
  • You’ll have electrode pads spread on your head. Each pad of electrodes is about the size of a silver dollar. ECT can be unilateral where electric impulses concentrate on only one side of the brain or bilateral where both sides of the brain get focused electric impulses.

You can learn more about anaesthesia procedures by buying this book on this website.

Ect (Electroconvulsive therapy)

Anaesthesia and medical medications

When you start with ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy), you will be given these kinds of medications through your IV line:

  • An anaesthetic to make you lose consciousness and unaware of the ECT procedure
  • A muscle relaxant medication to help reduce the seizure and avoid harm

You may also receive other medications depending on your current health condition and your earlier reactions to ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy).

In the midst of the ECT procedure

  • A blood pressure cuff will be placed around one ankle which prevents the muscle relaxant medication from entering your foot and impacting the muscles situated there. When the ECT procedure starts, your doctor can observe seizure movement by watching for action in that foot.
  • Monitors will assess your brain, blood pressure, heart and oxygen use.
  • You may receive oxygen through an oxygen mask.
  • You may also receive a mouth guard to help prevent getting your teeth and tongue harmed.

You can learn more about the process of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) by buying this book on this website.

Ect (Electroconvulsive therapy)

Eliciting a short seizure

As you lost consciousness due to your anaesthetic, you will be laying on the bed and the doctor will press a button that can induce a seizure in you.

This only occurs for a minute which is enough for ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) to work.

  • Due to these medications, you will be subjected to nothingness as you feel that there really isn’t any seizure happening. Aside from the fact that your leg may be responsive to it by moving slightly.
  • With this seizure, activity in your brain is increased and enhanced. The EEG which sees brain waves will be monitoring your seizures momentarily. Enhanced activity seen in the EEG can be indicative of a seizure in the making.

After a few minutes, the effects of the anaesthesia will soon wear off.

You will regain consciousness once you are placed in the recovery area. 

Once you regain consciousness, you may feel some of the side effects mentioned above, especially confusion.

Sets of interventions

The number of times that ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) will be given to you will be based on the severity of your psychological symptoms.

You are safe to go back to your regular activities once you are done with this procedure

However, you are not advised to do activities that may require you to be proactive such as driving, making crucial decisions, and going to work with lots of tasks.

Although you can return to your regular activities if the side effects of ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) didn’t have too much impact on you.

You can be reassured that ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) will make sure that you have fewer side effects which you can learn in this book bought here.

Fictions about ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy)

ECT is like someone flew over a cuckoo’s nest or going crazy

This kind of fiction is based on the media portrayals of ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) that have happened years ago.

Recently, this therapy is now using anaesthesia.

Patients will be observed thoroughly by doctors during this procedure to reduce the possibility of having problems.

As mentioned before, patients are unaware of their surroundings while they are undergoing ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy).

ECT is a miracle treatment

It might have been an effective therapy but it is not a definitive cure.

Sometimes, people with depression treated with ECT may have some relapses of depressive symptoms. 

Fortunately, maintenance medications will be given to these patients to minimize the relapsed depressive symptoms.

I’ll get hurt in the midst of the seizure.

As mentioned before, seizures are implemented in the patient but this is to stabilize the patient.

Also, some patients have shown multiple seizures that caused them to fall off from the bed but they didn’t suffer a fatal head injury. 

This situation can’t occur in the ECT procedure.

Some patients may have their limbs moved by the seizure but they only move as little as possible. 

Although there is a potential danger of biting one’s tongue off due to the seizure.

The medical team will make sure to set precautions in case this kind of situation occurs. 

I’ll have lifelong brain trauma.

Many patients are fearful of this fiction about ECT.

Although there aren’t patients complaining about having some distressing changes in the brain. 

Some patients have been observed to have lost some of their memories but these lost memories have been known to come back after a few months.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have discussed the meaning of electroconvulsive therapy, electroconvulsive therapy for depression and more information about electroconvulsive therapy.

If you have any questions about ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy), please let us know and the team will gladly answer your queries.

FAQs: Ect (Electroconvulsive therapy)

How many ECT treatments is too many?

Too many ECT treatments are 12 of these kinds of treatments.

These kinds of treatments are often given to the affected patient 3 times a week such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

This is the standard schedule of these treatments to make sure the psychological symptoms are stabilized

Is electro shock therapy still used today?

Yes, electro shock therapy is still used today in Europe than in the United States.

This kind of therapy has been an effective short-term relief for people who have depression.

This was found in a study which makes this kind of therapy still useful today.

Can you get brain damage from ECT?

You can’t get brain damage from ECT but your brain cells will change to make you more resistant from severe mental illness.

This kind of outcome is what scares most affected patients who are prescribed with this kind of therapy which they nothing to worry about

Can ECT change your personality?

ECT cannot change your personality. This is a myth surrounding this kind of therapy.

The electrical impulses only serve to minimize the occurrence of distressing symptoms in some psychological disorders in affected people.

How much does ECT cost?

ECT costs $2,500 per session of this therapy.

Although you can cover this with medical insurance if there really is a prescription from the doctor of getting this kind of therapy for the affected patient.

Citations

Mayo Clinic. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Mind. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Rethink Mental Illness.  Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Ect (Electroconvulsive therapy)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.