Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of mental disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. When medication or other typical treatments aren’t working, electroconvulsive therapy may be recommended.

ECT is very effective and works faster than antidepressant medication in improving the symptoms of major depression and suicidal ideation. At the Psychiatric Research Institute (PRI), ECT is one of several interventions we use to treat mental disorders that have not responded to traditional forms of therapy.

ECT is done primarily on an outpatient basis. The recovery period from anesthesia is usually about an hour and patients are able to return home with the assistance of a care-giver. It has proven to be successful for patients who are at risk to themselves, and/or are acutely suicidal and need to be stabilized quickly. It can also be used safely for pregnant women who are having significant problems with depression.

Most patients receive six to 12 treatments during their initial series, and the treatments are tapered down in frequency while the patient is monitored for stabilization . Depending on their progress, some come back for follow-up treatments while other patients may remain symptom free. The effectiveness of the therapy and its safety has led to its increased use and success around the world.

Providers can refer their patients for an ECT consult appointment by contacting PRI at (501) 526-8100 or pri@uams.edu.