For some people with severe or hard-to-treat depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the best treatment. This treatment, sometimes referred to as "electroshock therapy," is often misunderstood and incorrectly viewed as a harsh, cruel treatment. In actuality, it is painlessly performed under general anesthesia and is considered the most effective treatment for severe depression. It can be lifesaving.
ECT works quickly, which is why it's often the treatment of choice for people with highly severe, psychotic, or suicidaldepression. For these people, waiting for antidepressants or therapy to work might be dangerous. However, the drawback is that the effects of ECT usually don't last, and further treatments will likely be necessary.
When you're depressed, muscle aches in your legs and feet can seem to come out of nowhere. They may not be related to any known injury or strain, and certainly need medical evaluation.
But depression and physical pain are closely related. Depression makes us more aware of vague aches and pains we would otherwise not notice. It also intensifies the feeling of pain and discomfort.
Could your muscle aches be related to depression? One way to find out is to keep a symptom diary. Print out this symptom...
With ECT, an electric charge is delivered to the brain and causes a seizure. For reasons that doctors don't completely understand, this seizure helps relieve the symptoms of depression. ECT does not cause any structural damage to the brain.
The procedure itself typically requires a stay in the hospital, although more and more it is being performed on an outpatient basis. During the procedure, you will be put to sleep under general anesthesia. You won't feel anything. Your doctor will also give you a muscle relaxant. Electrodes will be applied to your scalp and deliver an electric current. This electrical stimulation causes a brief seizure. The seizure is controlled with medications so your body doesn't move. You will wake up a few minutes later without any memory of the treatment.
The number of required sessions varies. Many people have six to 12 sessions over a period of several weeks. After initial treatment, you might require further ECT treatments in addition to depression medicine and therapy to prevent your depression from returning.
Studies have shown that ECT works for many people who have treatment-resistant depression. One study of 39 people with treatment-resistant depression compared the effects of an antidepressant with ECT. After two to three weeks, 71% of people who received ECT had a positive response to treatment. But only 28% who received the antidepressant had a positive response after four weeks of treatment. The results were published in 1997 in the medical journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia.