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How does electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for bipolar disorder work, and when is it used?

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In electroconvulsive therapy, an electric current is passed through the scalp to cause a brief seizure in the brain. It’s one of the fastest ways to ease symptoms in people with mania or severe depression. ECT is generally used when medicines or other treatments don’t help, or when mood or psychotic symptoms are so severe that it may be unsafe to wait until drugs take effect. ECT is also often thought to be the treatment of choice for severe mood episodes during pregnancy.

SOURCES:

National Institute for Mental Health: "Step-BD Women's Studies."

Massachusetts General Hospital Bipolar Clinic & Research Program.

MedicineNet.com: "Bipolar Disorder (Mania)."

American Psychiatric Association: "Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Bipolar Disorder."

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari on March 18, 2019

SOURCES:

National Institute for Mental Health: "Step-BD Women's Studies."

Massachusetts General Hospital Bipolar Clinic & Research Program.

MedicineNet.com: "Bipolar Disorder (Mania)."

American Psychiatric Association: "Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Bipolar Disorder."

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari on March 18, 2019

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What happens during electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat bipolar disorder?

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