ECT is regarded as the benchmark treatment for the most severe resistant depression, bipolar disorder and psychotic illnesses including schizophrenia; and has 80% to 90% success rates in treatment resistant patients.
During treatment, anaesthetic is administered to induce sleep so the patient’s muscles can completely relax. Once asleep, a carefully controlled electrical current passes through the scalp and induces a seizure throughout the brain. This affects the brain’s electrical activity and produces an improvement in depressive and psychotic symptoms.
It is a safe and painless treatment with temporary side effects including short term mild memory loss, headache and muscular pain.
ECT is usually administered two or three times a week, and the number of treatments required vary by patient. Some patients improve after three or four treatments, others may need more.
Scientific evidence clearly records ECT as effective in improving depressive and psychotic symptoms.
Patients commonly report that ECT makes them “feel like themselves” and that “life is worth living again”.