Electroconvulsive Therapy

  • Howard S. Smith


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the practice of inducing seizure activity with an external electrical current while the patient is under general anesthesia. The most common indication for ECT is major depressive disorder with or without features of psychosis, severe suicidality, catatonia, or in pregnancy where a rapid response is required. It is often used for patients whose depression has been refractory to antidepressant medications or who do not tolerate adverse effects of antidepressants, as it is considered to be at least as effective and possibly more effective than antidepressant medications. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), other potential indications for ECT in certain circumstances may include: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, organic delusional disorder, organic mood disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, neuroleptic-induced Parkinsonism, and tardive dyskinesias. The mortality of ECT is estimated to much less than 1% (4/100,000 treatments). Morbidity is limited, but may include cardiovascular effects, central nervous system effects, and other symptoms (e.g., headaches, myalgias).


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Status Epilepticus Tardive Dyskinesia Antidepressant Medication Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnesthesiologyAlbany Medical CollegeAlbanyUSA

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