Depression and ECT Treatment

Depression and ECT Treatment

Depression is mental health illness that affects a large percentage of the population. The dominance of this illness does not, however, minimize its severity. Depression is both physically and emotionally painful. Sufferers experience a dramatic shift in mood and energy levels, and these symptoms persist for weeks and months at a time. More than just a bad mood or rough week, depression causes intense symptoms that interfere with an individual’s life, including the following:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • An inability to feel pleasure or joy
  • Fatigue and decrease in energy
  • Insomnia
  • Cognitive problems, such as difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies

If the disorder is not diagnosed and treated, depression can cause problems for one’s health, relationships, career, finances and general wellbeing. Fortunately, there are many treatment options for depression, including antidepressants, medication, counseling, behavior therapy, alternative therapies, acupuncture, massage therapy and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy).

Why Is ECT Effective for Treating Depression?

ECT has earned a bad reputation as a means of treatment because of the intense procedure that takes place. However, ECT has been used to treat depression for decades, and the therapy is still the most effective option for treating severe cases of depression. People who should consider ECT are individuals with severe cases of depression or bipolar disorder who have not found success from other methods of treatment. Antidepressants and other medications can lead to drug dependence and addiction and cause changes to the brain that actually make depression worse. For individuals with severe, recurring or chronic depression, long-term drug use can cause more harm than good. Doctors can advise comprehensive treatment plans that utilize non-addictive treatment options along with medication. However, drugs should not be taken long-term, and holistic or alternative treatment options may not work for everyone.

What Happens during ECT Treatment for Depression?

ECT is not right for everyone, but the therapy is especially effective for certain candidates. ECT is the process of using electric currents to create seizures in the brain. Nerve receptors are stimulated in the brain, specifically the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on the left side of the brain, which is responsible for negative thoughts that contribute to depression. Depression is thought to be caused by an imbalance in brain chemicals, and the spasms and seizures caused by the electric currents can repair the imbalance.

Patients are given anesthesia during the procedure and literally feel no pain. Short-term memory loss and muscle spasms are the most common side effects following the procedure, but these are temporary. ECT is a safe treatment option and can help individuals suffering from depression, mania and suicidal thoughts get their lives back. ECT is generally performed in two four-week periods, with up to three therapy procedures per week.

Is ECT Treatment Right for You?

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression or other mental health disorders, we can help. Our recovery professionals are available 24 hours a day to speak with you about finding ECT and other treatment options that are right for you. Recovery professionals are here to answer questions, address concerns, provide information and help you find the treatment and recovery services that fit your own, unique needs. To learn more about how we can help you overcome depression or other mental health problems, call our toll-free helpline now.