Prior to getting electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), you will meet with a consulting psychiatrist who will review your previous treatment history. Additionally, the ECT consultant will discuss with you, at length, the risks, benefits and alternatives to ECT and address any concerns you have. An informed consent for the procedure will be taken.
A recent set of blood tests and an electrocardiogram (ECG) will be required as part of the pre-treatment workup. You will also be advised whether any of your medications will need to be withheld before ECT. In some instances, additional radiographic tests (x-rays, CT scan of brain) may be required.
ECT is administered at our center on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The treatments usually start early (7am) and you will be notified of your appointment in advance. Please try to reach the treatment area approximately half an hour prior to your treatment.
First and subsequent treatments
Studies have demonstrated that most patients require a series of treatments in order for ECT to be effective. Most ECT courses necessitate 10 – 12 treatments at a frequency of three times a week (referred to as the “index course” of treatments).
Studies also demonstrate that some patients receiving ECT for depression do best when they then receive a slow taper of treatments following this “index course” (initially weekly, then biweekly) over the course of the next 6-8 weeks (these followup treatments are referred to as “maintenance treatments”).
Tracking your progress
Most people receiving ECT do not notice an improvement in their condition until the 5th or 6th treatment (often your family members and friends notice the difference before you do).
Clinical response to ECT will be monitored by the treatment team and your primary psychiatrist. Your clinical improvement will play a part in the determining the total number of ECT treatments that you would require.