Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure used to treat severe depression. It may be used for people who have delusions, hallucinations or suicidal thoughts or when other treatments such as psychotherapy and antidepressant medications have not worked. It is also used for other psychiatric and neurological conditions.
ECT may be recommended for you when:
ECT is performed under anesthesia and the patient is asleep. During the procedure, the brain is briefly stimulated with electricity. This causes a small seizure. It is believed that the seizure results in a beneficial change in brain chemistry. ECT has a high success rate in patients with depression.
ECT is given as a series of treatments – usually 6 - 12 treatments over 2 - 4 weeks. General anesthesia is administered by an anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist. The procedure lasts approximately 10 minutes, with a minimum one hour of recovery time required.
Side effects are primarily associated with anesthesia, but may result from the ECT itself. Because of the effects of anesthesia, you may not remember the procedure. You may experience some short-term memory loss, confusion, nausea, headache, jaw pain, muscle aches and/or soreness immediately following ECT. These effects may last several hours. A few people have reported long-term memory loss.
Electroconvulsive therapy is administered Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons at the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute’s ECT suite on the 5th floor of the Landis Central Building.
Preparation for ECT includes:
Physicians who wish to refer a patient for ECT should fax the following information to (717) 782-6461 :
For information about electroconvulsive therapy, please contact the ECT Suite at
(717) 782-6422 Monday through Friday.
Directions to Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute ECT »