Is Electroconvulsive Therapy Safe?

Despite its consistent positive effects, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) gets a bad rap. The practice began in the 1940s and, in its early days, caused injury, memory loss, and brain damage for patients, which has been heavily reported by news media since then. It is colloquially referred to as “shock therapy,” which certainly contributes its unfavorable public perception.

According to the Mayo Clinic, much of the fear and negative coverage of ECT “is based on early treatments in which high doses of electricity were administered without anesthesia.” However, “[ECT] now uses electric currents given in a controlled setting to achieve the most benefit with the fewest possible risks.”

How Does Electroconvulsive Therapy Work?

Before ECT is performed, a patient will be given anesthesia and electrodes will be applied to the head. A small, controlled electric current is administered, causing a brief seizure. Patients are not awake during the procedure, nor do they feel pain during the seizure.

Contrary to popular belief, ECT does not merely “shock” people out of depression and other mental illnesses. It is designed to trigger changes in brain chemistry that can provide relief from depression, psychosis, catatonia, and other painful, disruptive mental health problems, and continues to create positive results and lift what many patients call “the clouds” of depression.

When Is Electroconvulsive Therapy Appropriate?

It is often assumed that ECT is used as a quick alternative to long-term treatment and therapy. However, it is actually intended to be an alternative for people who have not responded to medications and other forms of treatment for depression and other mental illnesses.

If you have experienced the continued, unmitigated effects of depression for a long time and have yet to see any success using antidepressants or other treatment methods, ECT may be a good option. It may also be necessary if you have not found any treatments that work and continue to experience suicidal thoughts or other symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, or other mental illness that pose an immediate danger to your life and well-being. ECT may also be a helpful alternative for people who suffer from allergies or other intolerances that keep them from taking medications.

Electroconvulsive Therapy and Mental Health Care in Chico

Contact Therapeutic Solutions today if you are suffering from depression or any other mental illness and have not been able to find relief in other treatments. Our board-certified psychiatrists are able to work with you to find a solution that works, and our entire staff is committed to providing the highest quality mental and behavioral health care in Northern California.

Call (530) 899-3150 today or contact us to request an appointment with our friendly staff members.