Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) can be an effective therapy for very severe depression, but it would probably only be considered if your symptoms were bad enough for you to be hospitalised for your depression. The treatment involves administering, under anaesthetic, a series of electric shocks to the brain at intervals over a few weeks.
In the past, the adverse effects of ECT have been fracture, panic episodes, fear, spontaneous seizures and headaches. These side effects are avoided these days by using anaethesia, muscle relaxation, oxygenation, brief-pulse stimulating currents, selected electrode placement and energy dosing. The primary impact of ECT remains its effect on recall and learning. Adults often have vague recollections of events and experiences that occurred during their illness. Some patients report more persistent memory difficulties.
Generally speaking ECT is used as a ‘last resort’, especially on children and adolescents, and only after all other first-line therapies and treatments have failed to help.