Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe and effective medical treatment for certain psychiatric conditions that are often not helped with other psychiatric intervention such as medication or therapy. ECT can be a positive option when medication treatment is unsafe, or has serious side effects.

ECT has been used to treat psychiatric disorders in individuals of all ages, from adolescents to the elderly. It is safe for individuals with serious general medical conditions and in women who are pregnant. The great majority of patients treated with ECT experience significant improvement. Scientific studies show that ECT produces substantial improvement in about 80% of people with severe depression.

ECT is recognized as a very safe and effective treatment by the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and similar organizations in Canada, Great Britain, and Europe.

Make a Referral

For more information or to make a referral, please call 207-662-3129.

Our ECT treatment team is trained and experienced in the required specialized ECT skills to deliver optimal treatment. The team includes:

  • Board Certified Psychiatrists
  • Board Certified Anesthesiologists
  • Registered Nurses

ECT is delivered in a medical suite where there is a waiting area, a treatment room, and a recovery area. ECT can be given while a patient is in the hospital, but being hospitalized is not a requirement for an individual to receive ECT.

The ECT procedure applies a small amount of electricity to the scalp to produce a brief seizure in the brain. Like many other medical procedures, ECT is administered to a patient who is under general anesthesia. The patient is asleep, and the procedure is painless.

Individuals appropriate for ECT are referred by their medical providers and our ECT team determines eligibility. Individuals most eligible include the following:

  • Severely depressed individuals who require a rapidly effective treatment
  • Individuals with depression who have demonstrated unsuccessful results from medication treatments
  • Individuals who, due to their medical conditions or other reasons such as pregnancy, cannot take recommended antidepressant medication because of potential unsafe side effects
  • Individuals with acute psychosis not responsive to medications alone
  • Individuals with a severe psychiatric condition known as catatonia
  • Individuals with a variety of other conditions, such as severe mania, delirium, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and severe Parkinson's with depression and psychosis
  • Individuals with neuropsychiatric disturbances sometimes seen in dementia and developmental disorders
There is no standard number of treatments; however, an acute course generally averages 2-3 treatments per week, for a total of 8-12 treatments. Many individuals continue treatment, often gradually reducing treatment frequency over several months. Some individuals choose maintenance ECT for chronic illness.

For more information or to make a referral, please call 207-662-3129.