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.