Skip to Content

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy provides electrical stimulation to your brain while you are under anesthesia in an effort to affect your brain chemistry and its influences on your mental health. It may require a number of treatments to be successful, but is very effective for many people.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatment centers in Florida

When you have a mental health condition or your emotional wellness is suffering, you just want to feel better-and we want that for you, too.

That's why HCA Florida Healthcare offers ECT. This is a quick, safe and effective alternative for many who have been unable to recover using other treatments. Additionally, our specialists are highly trained in the application and usage of all our ECT technology. we also keep up to date with the latest research on ECT, to ensure you get the highest quality care we can provide.

What is ECT used for?

ECT has been proven to be safe and effective neurotherapy for many people with severe mental health symptoms. It is particularly useful for those who:

  • Are severely and chronically psychotic, such as those who have catatonia
  • Have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder
  • Have been diagnosed with chronic depression or experience suicidal thoughts or tendencies
  • Have been diagnosed with severe mania or schizophrenia and have not responded to medications and counseling
  • Have not had success with alternative treatments, such as medications
  • Need a rapidly effective treatment

How does ECT treatment work?

The electrical stimulus produced during an ECT session produces changes in your brain waves. The changes are similar to a generalized seizure. Although no one knows precisely why this works, the seizure-like activity in the brain reduces and improves mental health symptoms.

What takes place during an ECT treatment?

Prior to treatment, our doctors will perform a physical exam, diagnostic blood work and probably request certain imaging services. This let's them be sure you are safe and that, out of all our behavioral health services, ECT is the treatment that's right for you.

During the treatment, our teams will double-check that you know what to expect, and will need your consent to begin. (You can stop ECT treatment at any time if you are uncomfortable or no longer wish to proceed for any reason.) The staff will carefully place electrodes (small, sticky pads attached to wires) on your scalp. They will connect you to an IV drip and administer medications to help your muscles relax and induce a deep sleep. Then, treatment will begin.

After treatment, you can expect to wake up within roughly 30 minutes. You may be disoriented, but we will be there to help you reorient and begin eating and drinking again. You may return home at that point or be admitted or returned to the inpatient mental health unit, depending on your needs.

It's important to us that you understand your treatment plan and that all your questions are answered before, during and after your care. We encourage you to ask questions, bring your support person along to appointments and take notes.

Is ECT safe?

ECT is a safe procedure. Like all other medical procedures, it can have some side effects, including:

  • Headache
  • Muscle soreness
  • Nausea
  • Short-term difficulty learning and/or remembering new information

What are the benefits of ECT?

One of the main benefits of ECT is how quickly it works to help you feel more like yourself again. Some benefits of ECT include:

  • Majority of those who have depression respond favorably
  • Results are often immediate
  • There are fewer side effects than most medications you would take to treat your condition

How long does ECT treatment take?

A single session of ECT typically lasts an hour. It may be done while you are in the hospital (inpatient) or as part of our outpatient mental health program.

Most patients have ECT therapy three times a week and end up needing about six to 12 total ECT treatments. However, the number of sessions you need will be based on your responsiveness to the treatment and other medical factors. Our teams will monitor these factors closely. They will also keep you informed about how the therapy is working and what other steps you may need to take alongside the therapy.

What happens after ECT treatments?

ECT by itself doesn't necessarily "cure" the issues it is used to treat. After your treatment or treatments with ECT, our specialists will work closely with you and your other physicians. Together, we will help find the medications or ongoing ECT maintenance program that works for you. We will do everything we can to improve your symptoms and lead a healthier, happier life.

Related Mental Health and Wellness Blog Posts

The importance of recognizing and treating prenatal and postpartum depression 

May 22, 2024
While pregnancy and childbirth are often full of joy and bliss, many women experience difficult changes in their moods. Perinatal depression, which is depression during or after pregnancy, is not uncommon and help is available. Learn more about the signs.

How to reduce stress hormones: 5 ways to lower cortisol levels 

April 01, 2024
Tayla Holman
Chronic stress and cortisol buildup can cause health problems like high blood pressure. Learn how to reduce stress hormones and improve your health.