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Electroconvulsive Therapy

What is electroconvulsive therapy?

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an electrical stimulation of the brain to induce brief seizures. The therapy seems to alter brain chemistry and can quickly treat symptoms of certain mental illnesses.

ECT is administered under general anesthesia by a team of medical professionals, including a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist, and a nurse or physician assistant.

Who is ECT appropriate for?

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is most commonly used to treat patients with the following mental illnesses:

  • Severe depression, particularly when symptoms include psychosis, thoughts of suicide, or a refusal to eat
  • Long-term depression that doesn't improve with medication or other treatments
  • Schizophrenia, when symptoms include psychosis, suicidal thoughts, a desire to harm others, or refusal to eat
  • Bipolar disorder, when symptoms include severe mania. Signs of mania include impaired decision making, impulsive or risky behaviors, substance abuse, and psychosis
  • Schizophrenia and some other psychiatric disorders where catatonia is a symptom. Catatonia is characterized by lack of movement or strange movements and difficulty with speech

When is ECT used?

ECT is used in the following cases:

  • Conventional therapy has failed, can't be tolerated by the patient, or isn't recommended
  • The patient's life is threatened in the short term, and rapid improvement is necessary
  • ECT is effective
  • The patient has responded well to ECT in the past and prefers this treatment
  • The patient requests ECT

Things to Consider

ECT should be a family decision. There is a time commitment and the patient will need the support of his family or loved ones.

The procedures themselves take only a few minutes, and there will be 12 sessions in a normal round of treatment.

We typically require a referral from the patient's primary care provider or mental health provider, but we can accept self-referrals. Patients will have an evaluation with our medical staff to determine if ECT is appropriate.

Articles & Resources

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    Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

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    Bipolar Disorder

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  • Facilities & Locations

Our care team provides a full spectrum of psychiatric services to children, adolescents, adults and families.

  • Location & Contact Info

    414 Shoup Ave. W.
    Twin Falls, ID 83301
    (208) 814-9100