What is ECT

ECT still remains a controversial treatment for depression. It is a treatment that remains underused and is often misunderstood. Electrodes (conductors which passes electricity to the brain) are positioned on a patient’s head whilst the patient is asleep under a general anaesthetic given by a doctor. ECT takes place in a hospital environment. An electric current crosses the brain tissue causing a small seizure (fit). To ensure that the seizure has very little effect on the body, patients are given a muscle relaxant when they have their anaesthetic. This means that the muscles in the body don’t all tense up when the electric current causes a seizure. It is not clear how ECT works; but it can have a rapid onset of action and can benefit many depressed patients. Often “top up” sessions of ECT are required to maintain the patient‘s ability to manage any residual depressive symptoms.

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