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What are the risks and side effects of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) when it’s used to treat bipolar disorder?

ANSWER

Electroconvulsive therapy ECT is among the safest treatments for severe mood disorders. Short-term memory loss is a common side effect, though this usually goes away within a few weeks after the treatments end, and can be eased based on how the electrodes are placed on the scalp and other technical parts of how the procedure is done.

Other possible side effects of ECT include:

These side effects may last from several hours to several days.

  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Jaw pain
  • Muscle aches

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 is the best way to manage mood swings with bipolar disorder?

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