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Depression And ECT


When all else fails, there has always been the treatment of ECT.  According to, “Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has always seemed like a barbaric treatment. Even though anesthesia now makes the procedure itself painless for patients, it still involves literally shocking the delicate electrical systems of the brain to produce seizures and may cause painful muscle spasms and memory problems afterwards. Still, after seven decades of use, ECT remains the most effective treatment known for severe depression.”  This article will provide a summary of what ECT is, in addition to exploring how ECT may be beneficial.

What Is ECT?

What is ECT?  According to, the following can be noted about ECT:

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure in which a brief application of electric stimulus is used to produce a generalized seizure.  It is not known how or why ECT works or what the electrically stimulated seizure does to the brain.  In the U.S. during the 1940’s and 50’s, the treatment was administered mostly to people with severe mental illnesses.  During the last few decades, researchers have been attempting to identify the effectiveness of ECT, to learn how and why it works, to understand its risks and adverse side effects, and to determine the best treatment technique.  Today, ECT is administered to an estimated 100,000 people a year, primarily in general hospital psychiatric units and in psychiatric hospitals.  It is generally used in treating patients with severe depression.  ECT is also used with some suicidal patients, who cannot wait for antidepressant medication to take effect.

How Can ECT Be Beneficial?

The question remains how can ECT be beneficial.  According to, the following groups of people or types of situations may benefit from the treatment of ECT:

  • When a need exists for rapid treatment response, such as in pregnancy
  • When a patient refuses food and that leads to nutritional deficiencies
  • When a patient’s depression is resistant to antidepressant therapy
  • When other medical ailments prevent the use of antidepressant  medication
  • When the patient is in a catatonic stupor
  • When the depression is accompanied by psychotic features
  • When treating bipolar disorder, including both mania and depression
  • When treating mania
  • When treating patients who have a severe risk of suicide
  • When treating patients who have had a previous response to ECT
  • When treating patients with psychotic depression or psychotic mania
  • When treating patients with major depression
  • When treating schizophrenia


To conclude this particular article, the focus of this article has been on a summary of what ECT is, in addition to describing how ECT can be beneficial.



Depression And 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). Depression And ECT. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 17 Oct 2016
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