For many suffering from depression, finding the right combination of medication
can be a struggle. Some are prescribed medication for months, only to
have their dosage increased or, even worse, have the entire medication
changed because their body rejected it. During this process, depressive
episodes can seem like a lifetime of misery. Luckily, alterative treatment
options can help if your depression has become resistant to medication.
What Is ECT?
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) has been around for some time and is generally
considered a “re-setting” of the brain. ECT is a procedure
to treat severe depression and is often used for people with symptoms
like delusions, hallucinations, or suicidal thoughts. ECT can be applied
when other treatments, such as psychotherapy and antidepressant medications,
do not work. The therapy is also used for other psychiatric and neurological
conditions, such as schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease. During
the treatment, electric currents are passed through the brain and intentionally
trigger a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry
that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses.
How ECT Works
ECT treatment can be similar to having surgery. Not only are you given
a gown to change into and wheeled into a surgical area, but you’re
also connected to various machines that monitor heart rate, blood pressure,
and other bodily functions. After an anesthesiologist administers a muscle
relaxant and a short-acting anesthetic, you’re asked to breathe
deeply while the medications take effect. Once you are unconscious, the
treatment starts. You are given a carefully monitored, controlled seizure
by the doctors at your bedside. After the seizure is over, the medications
are reversed and you begin to wake. Once awake, your vitals are carefully
monitored and tracked. After a sufficient period of recovery you may return
home and rest. Studies have shown that ECT works for many people who have
treatment-resistant depression. A study conducted by the medical journal
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia found 71% of people who received ECT had a positive response to treatment.
Though the treatment can work quickly, about 50% of those who receive
it will relapse within several months. Doctors typically advise a medication
plan and periodic “maintenance” ECT sessions to help prevent relapse.
Want to learn more about ECT and other alternative treatments? For more
information, contact our team of Chico mental health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions PC. Let us help you live life in balance.