Electroconvulsive Therapy

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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe, well-studied and frequently-used procedure for patients with treatment-resistant depression or psychosis for whom medication and therapy have not been effective. Electroconvulsive therapy is endorsed as an effective treatment by the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychiatric Association, and the U.S. Surgeon General.

Each year, hundreds of patients are treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the Department of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern. Specially trained faculty physicians administer this treatment at University Hospital-Zale Lipshy which can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis. 

Patients will undergo evaluation and testing (lab work and ECG) to assess their general health and suitability for the procedure. If the decision is made to proceed with ECT, then the acute course of three to four treatments may be initiated in the inpatient setting or outpatient setting depending on the needs of the patient. Most patients, where there is reliable outside support, can receive ECT through outpatient treatment.

The decision to use ECT should include patient, family, and physician. Many different opinions exist with regards to ECT. It is important to carefully consider the risks and benefits of this procedure as with any form of medical treatment.