ECT stands for "electroconvulsive therapy". Basically, what it is, is the administration of an electrical shock to induce a brief seizure in the brain, in a medically controlled environment, under anesthesia. It is believed to change the brain chemistry in order to treat depression and other mental conditions. ECT can be used to treat many different mental disorders. Keep in mind, there is no "cure" for any mental illness. Only treatments. With the proper treatments, these disorders can be managed quite well.
ECT has sort of a bad reputation due to it being very "barbaric" when it was first developed. It has changed drastically. Initially, ECT was much more severe, less deliberate and precise, and higher currents were used (without anestheisa) that resulted in injuries, such as fractures, etc.
NO, ECT is not for "everyone". There are definite benefits, but like anything, there are also definite risks. One of the most common reported side effects is memory loss. This can vary from none at all, to minimal memory loss, to more severe amnesia. ECT is definitely not typically considered until most other treatment modalities have been at least tried.
For someone with treatment resistant depression, ECT can be a life-saver. You can read about it on many many sites, just google "ECT".
Hope that helps. If that's something you're interested in, ,or curious about, ask your psychiatrist about it.
ECT is not the first choice in treatments. Meds are always tried first. ECT is more commonly used if you are med resistant, suicidal and can't wait for a medication to start working, pregnant and not wanting to take meds during the pregnancy.
I started this round of ECT in July 2011. For the initial treatment I had 3 treatments a week for 3 weeks. Then I went on maintenance, once a week, then every other week, extending the time between treatments until at once every four weeks, which I am at now. Every five weeks is too much for me as I start to slide, at three weeks I definitely don't need it yet. I started ECT when suicidal and med resistant. Now I am taking an MAOI, an old antidepressant. Even that is not quite enough. I am very lucky as I have little to no memory loss from ECT.
Thank you. I was curious about it as I thought it was more like a lobotomy.
Annie...glad to hear you've been pretty successful with ECT. Sadly, a lot of people still have very negative views of it, think of it as barbaric, etc. It's not what it used to be! You're fortunate to not have memory loss, that's great!
christine...no no no! LOL, nothing like a lobotomy. A lobotomy is a surgical procedure where part of all of one lobe of the brain is removed. It used to be performed on people with very violent and aggressive behavior, and also for people with various mental health conditions. BIG difference.
There are MANY different meds used to treat depression. Many people think that only the SSSRIs or SNRIs (ie Zoloft, Effexor, etc) are an option. That's not true,. There are the older tricyclic ADs, (ie Elavil) as annie mentioned the MAOIs, and there are other kinds of meds that can be used in conjunction with ADs to treat depression, like atypical anti-psychotic meds. There are a LOT of options,. The important thing is finding a GOOD psychiatrist who can help you navigate through those decisions.