Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a safe, effective tool for managing many behavioral health problems, such as major depression, bipolar mania, schizophrenia and catatonia. Many mental illnesses are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. ECT works to reset those levels by adjusting some of the brain’s chemical pathways. After the treatment, these chemicals return to normal levels, improving the patient’s symptoms.
In this hospital-based procedure, patients are given short-acting anesthesia and a muscle relaxant, followed by a short, controlled, low-energy electric pulse. Most patients are fully awake within 30 minutes after ECT.
How the treatment process works:
- The procedure takes place in the hospital, but it typically does not require an overnight stay.
- ECT’s initial phase generally includes eight to 12 treatments, at a rate of about two treatments per week.
- Many individuals begin to notice results after four to six treatments.
- After the initial treatment phase, ongoing maintenance treatments are recommended.
- Inova’s ECT team will work with each patient to develop an individualized treatment plan designed to keep symptoms under control and maintain gains.