ECT stimulates brain cells via a brief electrical pulse to the scalp while the patient is under anesthesia. ECT appears to cause changes in brain function that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses. ECT is commonly used to treat patients with severe or treatment resistant depression who have not responded to medications or who cannot tolerate medications’ side effects. There are other clinical presentations that may benefit from ECT. ECT may cause minor side effects in certain patients, but it is administered in a controlled setting to achieve the most benefit with the fewest possible risks.

ECT is performed by a treatment team including a psychiatrist, anesthesiologist and nursing staff. Patients are monitored continuously throughout the treatment process. The ECT treatment team will collaborate with the patient’s inpatient and/or outpatient providers in the development of treatment and discharge plans.

ECT treatments are extremely safe and medical complications are rare. Patients are monitored constantly throughout treatment.

Even if patients respond well to ECT, they may experience relapses of depression and require a taper treatment that lasts over several weeks to months. Many patients begin to notice an improvement in their symptoms after two or three treatments with ECT. Full improvement may take longer.

Although there has been a persistent fear that ECT might destroy brain cells, current research has indicated that ECT, like antidepressants, can actually stimulate new growth in certain parts of the brain.

ECT services are available at Pembroke Hospital on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.

At Pembroke Hospital, appointments are available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 7:00 a.m. to noon. For more information about ECT services at Pembroke, call 781-829-7271.

At Arbour Hospital, appointments are available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Please call our Intake Department for assistance and admissions options.