ECT treatment in San Antonio, TX
What is Electroconvulsive Therapy treatment? (ECT)
ECT is a treatment that has been around for roughly 100 years and has proven to be a safe and effective intervention for multiple mental health conditions including, but not limited to, depression, suicidality, mania, psychosis, and catatonia.
There have been many advancements made over the past several decades to the ECT machines themselves, the placement of the electrodes on the head, the anesthesia that accompanies the procedure, and the medical monitoring that takes place, which have all improved ECT’s efficacy, tolerability, and safety.
How does ECT work?
ECT involves applying an electrical stimulus to the brain, using two electrodes that are placed on the head, in order to produce a seizure. The seizure lasts roughly 1 minute and is thought to act as a “reset” to the chemical and electrical systems in the brain—we think this “reset” can be very therapeutic to those suffering from mental illness.
Because you will be asleep for the entirety of the procedure, you will not feel any pain or discomfort, nor remember any part of the procedure once you wake up. The entire process, from check-in to discharge, should take roughly 1 hour—with the actual ECT procedure taking less than 5-10 minutes.
When should ECT be considered as a treatment option?
Science continues to make significant advances in the medication treatment of severe mental illnesses including depression, suicidality, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and catatonia. We at Phoenix Mental Health in San Antonio believe in, and support, these advancements. However, even with these new treatment options, there are still a subset of patients who will not respond to medications and not get better. ECT should be considered when mental illnesses (such as those listed above) are not responding to medication treatments.
What kind of monitoring will take place during the procedure?
You will be closely monitored prior to, during, and after the procedure by medical professionals including a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist, and our nursing staff here in San Antonio. We will be monitoring your vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, oxygen, etc.), your heart rhythm via an EKG machine, and your brain activity, which will let your physician know if a seizure occurred and how long it lasted. Physical exams, memory testing, and mood scales will also be done when indicated.
What kind of medications will I receive during the treatment?
Upon arrival to the ECT suite, an IV (intravenous line) will be placed and will be used to give you all the required medications. You will receive medicines that will reduce mouth secretions, decrease irregular heartbeats, relax your muscles, and put you to sleep. A more in‐depth discussion of the medications, their purpose, and their side effects is absolutely welcomed and can be had with the anesthesia provider who is present on the day of your treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments that you will require cannot be predicted ahead of time. You and a Phoenix Mental Health psychiatrist will continue to discuss the need for further ECT treatments at each of your treatment visits—this is an ongoing and active discussion. The ultimate number of treatments you will require largely depends on your condition, how well your daily medication regimen is working, how quickly you are responding to the treatment, and the professional opinion of your doctor. It is common to receive between 6 to 12 ECT treatments at 2 to 3 times per week for the initial series
Is ECT safe?
Yes, ECT is safe. ECT is actually 10 times safer than childbirth. However, it is incredibly important to realize that this doesn’t mean that ECT comes without any risks. Phoenix Mental Health takes the informed consent process very seriously. We want to make sure that we discuss the risks, benefits, and side effects of ECT with you at length so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not this is a treatment you wish to receive. We offer/require a consultation appointment with one of our psychiatrists in San Antonio to discuss these items with you and your loved ones prior to initiating any treatment.