ECT treatment in the Kansas City area

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a modern treatment for certain illnesses that have mental or emotional symptoms. In this treatment, the patient receives a brief electrical stimulation to the scalp while under general anesthesia. The resulting nerve-cell activity releases chemicals in the brain and helps restore normal functioning.

To find out if ECT is right for you or a loved one, please call us at (844) 207-4511.

When ECT can be used

Research Psychiatric Center has been practicing ECT since 1985. It's commonly used to treat:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Severe depression that doesn't respond to medicine or that causes serious symptoms like psychosis and suicidal thoughts
  • Schizophrenia
  • Severe mania that doesn't respond to medicine

How ECT treatment works

In the past, ECT has been portrayed as a painful treatment or used as a form of punishment. This is not true. In fact, most patients surveyed after modern ECT said it was no worse than going to the dentist. Many also found ECT less stressful.

An anesthesiologist gives the patient a sleeping medication and a muscle relaxant. When a patient’s muscles are relaxed, the doctor applies a brief electrical charge to the scalp. This charge stimulates the brain into a rhythmical activity that lasts about a minute and releases chemicals from nerves in the brain.

A treatment team of doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, and an anesthesiologist gives ECT. The treatment is given at Research Psychiatric Center in a specially-equipped area as part of an inpatient treatment plan or on an outpatient basis.

During the initial series of treatments, ECT is given three times a week, typically Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for a total of six to 12 treatments. A few patients may require more than 12 treatments following the initial series for best results.

Patients also have the option to receive maintenance ECT, which they can get several times a year.

ECT patient support

During and up to two weeks following ECT, the patient should not be left alone until cleared by the physician. The patient should not drive or engage in any other activities that could be dangerous due to disorientation.

Because the patient will not be allowed to drive for up to two weeks following their last treatment, they will need assistance getting to and from appointments and treatments.

Benefits of ECT

There are many beneficial components to ECT as a treatment option:

  • It's effective, helping 90 percent of patients who take it. Many can resume working and lead full, productive lives.
  • It often works for people who don't respond to other forms of treatment for their illness.
  • It has fewer side effects than medication.
  • It can provide relief more quickly than medication alone.

Side effects of ECT

Like any other procedure, there are potential side effects of receiving this type of treatment, such as:

  • Confusion and disorientation (may occur immediately after treatment)
  • Headache
  • Jaw pain
  • Memory problems—this includes difficulty remembering new information in recent events or difficulty remembering past events. These problems usually resolve when the treatments end.
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea

ECT vs. medication therapy

Medication helps many patients who might otherwise require ECT. Still, for more than 30,000 U.S. patients each year, ECT is the most effective treatment.

Some patients don't respond to medication, and others can't tolerate the side effects. There are also patients whose illness has made them suicidal. They urgently need the reliable symptom relief that ECT can provide.