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What Is ECT?

what is ECTIntroduction

At times, people with Major Depressive Disorder may not respond to therapy or medication. According to Webmd, “The question remains what is the next step. For some people with severe or hard-to-treat depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the best treatment. This treatment, sometimes referred to as “electroshock therapy,” is often misunderstood and incorrectly viewed as a harsh, cruel treatment. In actuality, it is painlessly performed under general anesthesia and is considered the most effective treatment for severe depression. It can be lifesaving.” Hence, ECT is a highly effective treatment for people suffering from severe depression. This article will describe what ECT is and also provide readers with the side effects of ECT.

What Is ECT?

You may be wondering what ECT is and how it works. This will be described. According to Webmd, “With ECT, an electric charge is delivered to the brain and causes a seizure. For reasons that doctors don’t completely understand, this seizure helps relieve the symptoms of depression. ECT does not cause any structural damage to the brain.” ECT can be administered in an outpatient setting or in a hospital setting. During the procedure, you will be given general anesthesia and will be asleep. Electrodes will be applied to your scalp. The electrical stimulation caused by the electrodes causes the brief seizure. It is worth noting that the seizure is controlled with medications so your body doesn’t move. You will soon wake up and not remember the treatment.

What Are The Potential Side Effects Of ECT?

If ECT works, you may be wondering if ECT causes any side effects after treatment. According to Webmd, “The most common side effect of ECT is short-term memory loss. However, some people report that they have long-term memory loss as well. ECT also causes a rise in heart rate and blood pressure and may not be recommended in people with unstable heart problems. A physical examination and basic laboratory tests including an electrocardiogram (ECG) are necessary before starting ECT to assure that no medical problems are present that could interfere with the safe administration of ECT.” With that said, ECT does have some side effects but they can be managed.


ECT is not for everyone. Medication or therapy may work for you. However, if medication or therapy does not work for you, do not be overwhelmed. There is ECT. ECT is an effective treatment that has been shown to alleviate symptoms associated with depression.

Brain with electrodes image available from Shutterstock

What Is ECT?

Lauren Walters

My name is Lauren Walters. I am currently heading into my final semester of graduate school for Mental Health Counseling in the Spring of 2016. Through my own experiences with mental illness, I love to inspire others through my writings and reassure them that they can live healthy, productive lives, despite mental illness. I hope you enjoy my articles. Feel free to comment. I will be sure to respond to you questions and/or comments in a prompt manner. Enjoy!

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APA Reference
Walters, L. (2016). What Is ECT?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Apr 2016
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