Should I (or my wife/husband/son/daughter/friend) have ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy)?
This question comes my way at least once a week, so I’ve decided to collect my thoughts in a single document. The answer is: it depends.
I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist nor am I someone who gets kickbacks for speaking about ECT. I speak from experience. I’ve had 4 ECT treatment series over the past 17 years, 28 treatments in total. ECT saved my life (in 2001) and deterred the onset of life-threatening depression in 2007 and 2016.
ECT generally is administered in an intensive treatment period of three sessions a week, usually beginning with right unilateral electrode configuration (one electrode on the right side of the head and one near the top of the head). After the intensive period, treatments are spaced out, some continuing with maintenance ECT to maintain health. Typically, a course of ECT consists of about 8-12 treatment sessions, though sometimes more. At each session, the patient is put under anesthesia and a small pulse of electricity is passed through the brain. It takes less than a few minutes, and a brief time is needed to recover from the anesthesia.