Electroconvulsive therapy is found to be the most effective method of depression treatment. It is largely employed in people who suffer from psychotic depression, people in whom antidepressants cannot be applied and also in pregnant women who suffer from mental despair. People who show suicidal tendencies are also brought under this treatment. In fact, rarely do people show tendency to suicide after undergoing ECT treatment.
Normally, ECT is provided thrice a week. In most cases one or two additional doses are also given even after the patient returns to normalcy. This is a safety measure that is done to check its relapse.
The first stage of electroconvulsive therapy involves putting the patient to sleep. This is effected by using a short-acting barbiturate. After this, the patient is administered a drug called succinycholine in order to paralyze his muscles. This is done to prevent fractures resulting from muscle contraction at the time of treatment. The electrodes are placed at both the temples. In certain cases, one electrode gets placed on the temple and the other on the middle of the forehead. After this, a current of minimal strength is allowed to pass through the electrodes and thereby to the brain. The current, which has a maximum duration of one second, activates the brain and produces a seizure. Due to the drugs given at the initial phase of the treatment, the patient will be sleeping peacefully through out the process. His heartbeat will be monitored with the help of an electrocardiogram. The confused patient wakes up from the induced sleep after fifteen minutes. Soon after electroconvulsive therapy, the patient suffers from strong headaches, stiffened muscles, decreased blood pressure etc. After some time, heartbeat will increase considerably and there will be a subsequent increase in blood pressure. However, patients who have a history of cardiovascular problems need to consult a cardiologist before undergoing electro convulsive therapy. ECT needs to be done only by expert hands who have specialized in this mode of treatment.