Treating Behavioral Health Disorders with ECT

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Mental health professionals have a range of options for treating mental health disorders like major depression and bipolar disorder. But because each person’s brain is unique, what works for one patient won’t always work for another. For those whose symptoms don’t improve with medication or other treatments, electroconvulsive therapy, sometimes called ECT, may be an effective treatment. Penn Highlands Behavioral Health services provides ECT.

What Is Electroconvulsive Therapy?

Electroconvulsive therapy, ECT, uses electrical currents, or minor shocks, to stimulate the brain. While the patient is under general anesthesia, a psychiatrist will administer the controlled electric currents to trigger a brief, safe seizure. This effect slightly alters the brain chemistry and can alleviate symptoms of certain mental health conditions, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, catatonia, and schizophrenia. The treatment is generally given two to three times a week for three to four weeks.

Who Is a Candidate for ECT?

ECT is typically not a first line treatment. It is commonly used for patients whose symptoms do not respond to other treatments, such as medications and psychotherapy, or those who can’t tolerate medications for various reasons. Because it works quickly compared to other treatment options, ECT also may be an option for people who are at risk for suicide or other serious harm due to the severity of their mental health condition.

How Can I Learn More About ECT?

Penn Highlands Healthcare just recently started offering ECT as a treatment option for some specific behavioral health disorders. You should talk with your psychiatrist and the rest of your care team about the benefits and risks of ECT for your condition.

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