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Electroconvulsive Therapy


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a treatment that sends an electric current to your brain to cause a seizure. The seizure affects the chemicals in your brain, which may make your brain cells work better. ECT is used to treat certain conditions, such as depression, that do not get better after medicines or other therapies have been tried.


Before your treatment:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • General anesthesia will keep you asleep during the treatment. You will also be given medicine to relax your muscles.

During your treatment:

Electrodes will be placed on your head. An electric current will be sent to your brain to trigger a seizure. The seizure usually lasts for 35 to 80 seconds. Your body may move very little, or not at all, during the seizure. Healthcare providers monitor you closely and record how long your seizure lasts. You will wake up 5 to 10 minutes after the treatment.

After your treatment:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest. Healthcare providers will watch you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When they see that you are okay, you may be allowed to go home or taken to your hospital room.

  • You may need to rest for a few hours after ECT. Call for a healthcare provider before you get out of bed for the first time. Sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy while standing up, and call for a healthcare provider. There is a greater risk for a fall after ECT treatments. Ask someone to help you when you want to stand up or walk.
  • Neuro checks show healthcare providers your brain function. They will check how your pupils react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your strength, balance, vision, and other brain functions may also be tested.


You may be confused or have trouble remembering things. You may have nausea, vomiting, a headache, or muscle aches. Your blood pressure may increase, or your heart rhythm may change. You may need more than one session. ECT may not improve your symptoms.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.