Oxygen is given through a mask. A mouth guard may also be placed in the mouth. This will protect the tongue and teeth from getting hurt. Next, electrodes will be placed on the head. They will be hooked up to a machine. It will send an electric current to the brain. This will cause a seizure. After the shock is given, some muscles will contract for a few seconds. Next, the body will twitch, which can last up to a minute.
Immediately After Procedure
You will be taken to a recovery room where your vital signs will be watched. You will wake up in 10-15 minutes. You may feel confused. This confusion can last minutes, hours, or sometimes longer.
How Long Will It Take?
About 30 minutes, including time to recover after the procedure
How Much Will It Hurt?
You will not feel any pain during the procedure. After ECT, you may have a headache, and muscle aches or soreness.
At the Care Center
When you are fully awake, you will be given something to eat and drink. In most cases, you will be able to go home the day of the procedure.
You will need to schedule an appointment for another ECT treatment. In most cases, you will need to have 2-3 treatments per week, for many weeks. You will need to take medication, such as antidepressants, and continue with therapy to prevent a relapse.
You may also need maintenance ECT to further prevent a relapse. Your doctor will help determine the right plan for you. This will depend on how you are progressing.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you have any of these:
Worsening of symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness or helplessness and thoughts of suicide—If you have thoughts of suicide, call your doctor or therapist right away.
Confusion and memory loss that lasts longer than expected.
Headache, muscle aches, or soreness that lasts longer than expected.
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Electroconvulsive therapy. El Camino Hospital website. Available at: http://www.elcaminohospital.org/Programs_and_Services/Behavioral_Health/Electroconvulsive_Therapy. Accessed September 4, 2018.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/how-electroconvulsive-therapy-works. Updated May 22, 2017. Accessed September 4, 2018.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/ect. Accessed September 4, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 9/4/2018
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