Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is a physical treatment carried out under a general anaesthetic. A stimulus is passed across the brain for a few seconds to produce a small artificial seizure which affects the brain, including the parts that control thinking, mood, appetite and sleep.

About the service

ECT is given twice per week, often on a Monday and Thursday, or Tuesday and Friday. A machine is used to precisely control the amount of stimulus used. ECT is only administered by a competent practitioner or by a trainee under the supervision of a competent practitioner.

Whilst it is impossible to predict how many treatments an individual will need, they are normally prescribed in blocks of 12.

ECT may be helpful if you:

  • have not improved with anti-depressant medication
  • can’t take anti-depressant drugs because of the side effects
  • have responded well to ECT in the past
  • feel so overwhelmed by your depression it’s difficult for you to carry out your daily activities.

Accessing the service

You may ask your consultant for the treatment, alternatively, treatment may be recommended to you if you have not responded to your current medication.

ECT services in Southern Health are held in the following locations (see top right panel). As a Trust we are unable to guarantee that a space in the nearest clinic will be available to you, although we will try to accommodate your wishes.

How to find us

Antelope House 

Royal South Hants, Brintons Terrace, Southampton, SO14 0YG

Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 8.30am - 12.30pm


Parklands Hospital

Aldermaston Road, Basingstoke, RG24 9RH

Open Monday and Friday: 8.30am - 12.30pm  

Further information

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has set up the ECT Accreditation Service (ECTAS) to provide an independent assessment of the quality of ECT services.
ECTAS sets very high standards for ECT, and visits all the ECT units who have registered with it. The visiting team involves psychiatrists, anaesthetists’, and nurses. It publishes the results of its findings and also provides a forum for sharing best clinical practice.

Membership of ECTAS is not compulsory, but every ECT unit in Southern Health has been accredited. A list of accredited sites is available on the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ website.

Access our patient leaflet.

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