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Home Mental Health Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy (ECT)

What is an E.C.T?
Electroconvulsive shock therapy involves passage of small amount of electric current for a very short duration across the brain, which leads to convulsions.

If current is passed through brain does it not cause burn /harm to the brain?

No, in E.C.T as small as 25 Joules of electric current is passed through the brain. In comparison, in case of a heart failure due to rhythm disturbances, as much as 200-300 joules are passed through the heart.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the safety of the procedure. In fact scientific studies have shown that patients who have received upto 100 ECTs in their lifetimes have not had any long term side effect or damage.

Is it not an old /out dated treatment?
Yes it is old treatment, 50 years old, and has still survived in medical field as a useful form of therapy, but it is not outdated. It is still one of the effective and widely used treatments in India.

But it must be used for very serious cases. Only for very seriously mad patients when drugs stop acting?
No, more than the MAD people it is for SAD people It can be very effective to lift up Depression .It can be used as the treatment of 1st choice in some illnesses e.g. Depressive & Catatonic stupor.

It must be given only to very young & healthy people who can bear the shock.
No, in fact, it can be given to old patients and pregnant women also. These people are more prone for side effects of drugs so E.C.T is much safer. It poses no danger to a pregnant woman.

So can a single shock treatment cure me from my illness?
No. The way we have a course of antibiotics for 5-7 days similarly ECT is also administered as a course of 6-8 sessions.

What are the side effects of E.C.T?
Saying NONE will be wrong, but side effects are much less compared to the useful effects. The commonly observed side effects include:
  • » Headache
  • » Bodyache.
  • » Forgetfulness (which is not permanent ) which remain for
Months only & memory is normal after that.

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