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Treatments for Mania in Bipolar Disorder

(continued)

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) for Bipolar Disorder continued...

Risks and Side Effects: Safety risks from ECT are related mainly to the risks of general anesthesia.  People with certain heart problems are sometimes not good candidates for ECT or may require especially close monitoring. Short-term memory loss is the major side effect, although this usually goes away one to two weeks after treatment.  ECT is often considered a treatment of choice during pregnancy, although in the latter part of pregnancy there is a risk for early labor and a need for particularly close monitoring by the anesthesiologist.

Other possible side effects include:

  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Jaw pain

These effects may last from several hours to several days.

A third of people who have ECT report some long-term memory loss.  The memory problems associated with ECT are sometimes related to other factors (such as a history of drug or alcohol abuse or other brain traumas).  Memory and other negative cognitive effects of ECT can often be minimized based on the technique used to deliver the treatment (such as where the leads are placed on the scalp, or other technical factors related to how the treatment is administered).  Minimizing the cognitive effects of ECT remains an active area of research.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on July 16, 2013
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