Worthwhile information and videos relating to ECT


ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) is a treatment for severe episodes of major depression, mania, and some types of schizophrenia. It involves the use of a brief, controlled electrical current to produce a seizure within the brain. This seizure activity is believed to bring about certain biochemical changers which may cause your symptoms to diminish or to even disappear. A series of seizures, generally 4-­‐12, given at a rate of two or three per week, is required to produce such a therapeutic effect. Sometimes a smaller or larger number may be necessary.

ECT works by affecting the same transmitter chemicals in the brain that are affected by medications. Although there have been many advances in the treatment of mental disorders in recent years, ECT remains the most effective, fastest and/or safest treatment for many cases, particularly when alternative treatments, usually medications are either not effective or not safe, or when a person is very likely to commit suicide. Your doctor will discuss with you why ECT is being recommended in your case and what alternative treatments may be available. ECT is most effective in major depression, where it has a strong beneficial effect to patients. Still there is no guarantee that ECT, or for that matter, any treatment will be effective.

All treatments have risks and side effects; however, not treating your depression also carries potentially significant risks. Prior to ECT patients will undergo a careful medical, psychiatric and laboratory evaluation to make sure that the treatments can be administered in the safest, most effective manner possible. Medications may be adjusted to minimize the risk and maximize the effectiveness of the treatments. For most patients the side effects of ECT are relatively minor.

An overall assessment of the nation’s largest real-world study of treatment –resistant depression (STAR*D, funded by NIMH) suggests that a patient with persistent depression can get well after trying several treatment strategies, but his or her odds of beating the depression diminish as additional treatment strategies are needed.

The results show that 50% of patients fail to achieve remission from depression despite four phases of sequenced treatments. However, ECT provides a 50% to 60% response rate in patients who have not responded to one or more adequate antidepressant trials. (Prudic et al. 1996; Sackeim et al. 1990, 2000).

ECT General Overview Video (View the video)

ECT Technical Overview Video (View the video)


Articles on ECT


About vnstherapy

I'm a very, very long-time support person and health care and mental health advocate/activist for my spouse Joyce as well as to others. I'm also a retired business executive and former Board Member, President and facilitator of a local chapter of DBSA as well as a Florida State appointment as a Guardian Advocate. I do not endorse, promote or advertise for any therapy, product or company. I do share our personal experiences, my research and knowledge in the hope it might benefit someone or do I give advice as to what one should or shouldn't do. I extend my best wishes for wellness to one and all and all the good you’d wish for yourselves.
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2 Responses to Worthwhile information and videos relating to ECT

  1. darie73 says:

    If my first experience with ECT hadn’t gone so horribly wrong I would do it. I only had one treatment where the doctor overshot his mark. It wasn’t supposed to be done in the hospital it was done in but because there was a small blip on my EKG they moved me to a different one. My doctor was not made aware of this and it was a Friday. The doctor in charge didn’t believe in some of my medications so he just stopped them. He kept me there for 3 days when I was only supposed to be there for 1. The waking up part was so horrific I couldn’t believe the pain in my head. Like an axe in the middle of my skull. The constant tears leaking from eyes and thinking I was 5 years old. I kept asking when my mommy was coming to get me and they kept telling me soon. She had been deceased for about 4 years. Having to remember this and relive it was not fun. There was no support. If things had been different, the staff, the doctor, it would have made a huge improvement. Because it did work for a time. Then I was back in the 12 foot hole of Depression with no way out and I have been here for a year, too afraid to try again, instead a guinea pig for meds that don’t work and horrible side effects. I’m at the end of my rope and so is my family. To try again or not have a life worth living, one of solitude.

    • vnstherapy says:


      I am truly sorry to read about your trials, tribulations and bad experiences with your first ECT treatment. I also took a little time to read your blog post entitled “Sexism in The Psych Ward” dated March 18, 2015. I very much can agree with your sentiments especially those relating to your Dad. My spouse, Joyce, similarly had no rearing or upbringing or situational issues or events that could be attributed as causation for her MDD and through the years we’ve dismissed a number of therapists and psyches who attempted to go that route. The fact is, in my spouse’s case history, she has a malfunctioning of the brain that caused her severe depressive episodes with 9 suicide attempts notched in her history. In any event, I still believe ECT is a viable treatment option to consider when suicidal ideations become uncontrollable although knowing that which I do today and being a support person to my spouse in excess of a half-century I try educate patients and/or their support persons to consider some of the newer treatment options that have become available before considering ECT. If you are not familiar there are also three (3) options available when considering ECT. They are Unilateral, Bi-frontal and Bilateral with the latter having the greatest potential for memory and cognitive side-effects.

      I am unlike many individuals especially when it comes to Joyce’s treatment(s). I am assertive, all questioning beforehand and try to cover all bases with the attending physician(s). If I’m not satisfied with their responses; we don’t proceed. Doctors do not play games with me simply because I am reasonably educated and knowledgeable as well as having collaborated through the years with the KOL (Knowledgeable Opinion Leaders in the field of Psychiatry) about depression and I am Joyce’s lay-person depression expert. ECT was beneficial in her case as we had no other options until we enrolled her in a research study. Some 15 years ago that study and the therapy has proven remarkable for her and in all that time she is depression free. We no longer discuss “depression.” The same is not true for all patients but that fact is true for any of the psychiatric treatment options. Years ago I coined a phrase “The Trial and Error Approach to Wellness” which unfortunately is still applicable to this day.

      I encourage you to please not give up hope while at the same time educating yourself and your support people to all the newer treatments that are available.

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences as I take all information shared with me, whether good or bad, as valuable.

      I wish you wellness and all the good you’d wish for yourself.


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