ECT refers to the most effective and rapidly acting treatment that we have today for severe depression and other conditions, and is used throughout the world.
ECT is an approved medical treatment that involves using electricity to produce a brief seizure in a person under general anesthesia (while the person receiving the treatment is asleep). The seizure usually lasts about a minute or less and body movement is very little because of a strong muscle relaxant medication that is given following the anesthetic drug. ECT is given two to three times per week, usually for six to 12 treatments.
ECT is performed by medical physicians (a psychiatrist and an anesthesiologist), assisted by nurses and other medical staff. ECT is recommended when a severe clinical depression is not responding to other treatments (such as psychotherapy and medications), or when there is a need for a rapid response (such as when there is a high risk of suicide, or the when the depression itself is threatening the health of the person). As such, ECT can be a life-saving treatment because it is rapidly effective, even when other treatments fail.