Sometimes people who struggle with mental health are unable to find an effective treatment. They may have tried medications, group therapy, and a range of behavioral health programs, yet they may still suffer from symptoms of their mental health conditions. In such cases where patients cannot find a solution, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be an appropriate treatment option. Learn more in the article below about ECT and how patients in Arizona can access ECT programs.
How providers administer ECT
When a patient receives ECT, licensed healthcare providers pass small electrical currents through the patient’s brain. The patient is under general anesthesia during ECT and takes muscle relaxants before treatment. Accordingly, the patient does not sense the electrical currents or feel any pain. The patient receives small electrical currents for just a few minutes, and the electrical brain stimulation significantly increases the brain’s activity. In fact, the patient undergoes a brief, medically-induced seizure.
After the short treatment session, the patient moves to a recovery area and undergoes several standard tests for monitoring. The patient then repeats this process for around a month and has treatment about three times a week.
How ECT can help patients
ECT impacts the brain’s metabolism and blood flow patterns. Clinicians believe that these changes can positively impact areas of the brain responsible for the patient’s mental health conditions.
Additionally, ECT causes a large release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, and others. Clinicians believe that this release of neurotransmitters may act as a “reset button” for the patient. Recent research also suggests that ECT can help the growth of new cells and nerve pathways.
Importantly, ECT does not cause brain damage or a loss of brain cells. ECT treatment is a proven, safe, and effective treatment that the medical community has studied for decades.
ECT effectiveness and approvals
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is one of the most effective treatments for mental health conditions. ECT has a success rate of over 80%, and the therapy can result in improvements to a patient’s mental health conditions quickly. Many patients experience symptom remission in just one to three weeks after treatment.
In addition to being an effective treatment option for mental health conditions, ECT is also a safe option. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have approved ECT therapy for clinical use. Also, ECT therapy only occurs with a qualified team of psychiatrists, anesthesiologists, and ECT-trained nurses. Additionally, ECT is approved and accepted by many insurance plans, including Medicare.
What type of patient can benefit from ECT?
It is important to note that while ECT is often effective, the treatment is not for everyone. Mental healthcare providers only prescribe ECT after the patient has exhausted all other medication-based approaches, talk therapy programs, and other behavioral health therapy options. Also, providers typically only administer ECT therapy to patients who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, and cases of schizophrenia where the patient is unresponsive to Clozapine. At Aurora Behavioral Health System, our medical professionals can help each patient and the patient’s primary care providers determine if ECT is the best treatment option.
Key benefits of ECT
A key benefit of ECT therapy is its high level of effectiveness. Studies show that ECT is 80% effective on average, and in some trials, ECT is 90% effective. Additionally, ECT is one of only three psychiatric treatments that decrease a patient’s chance of suicide.
A second significant benefit of ECT therapy is that it does not involve prescription medication. This characteristic means that clinicians do not have to worry about the interaction between treatment medication and other medications that the patient takes. Sometimes, clinicians have to worry about potential sexual health issues, weight gain, and other side effects when patients are on several medications. As a drug-free therapy, clinicians do not have to worry about drug-based side effects with ECT.
Another important benefit of ECT therapy is that most insurance companies cover ECT. Insurance coverage is important, as patients are sometimes unable to afford the mental health treatment they need. Since major insurances, including Medicare, cover ECT therapy, many patients can access this effective therapy.
What to expect at our ECT Treatment Program
At Aurora Behavioral Health System, we offer ECT therapy to treat mental health disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Patients at our Glendale and Tempe, Arizona, locations will receive the following program benefits:
- An initial consultation within 72 hours.
- Outpatient appointments within 24 to 72 hours.
- Access to the latest ECT therapy technology, including the MECTA Spectrum Ultrabrief® 5000Q® device. This device reduces short-term memory loss from ECT treatment via its new optimized dosing parameters. The MECTA device also includes Duke University EEG seizure quality measurement features.
- Access to board-certified psychiatrists and board-certified anesthesiologists. Our team members have worked together for over a decade.
- Time for family members and friends to meet with the ECT psychiatrists and anesthesiologists before each ECT treatment.
- Access to family members and friends up until the time of anesthesia.
- Time with the ECT clinicians after treatment to address any questions or concerns.
To learn more about our ECT program at Aurora Behavioral Health System, check out our educational video and treatment center tour below:
Contact Aurora Behavioral Health System
To learn more about our electroconvulsive therapy in Arizona, check out our ECT Myth vs. Fact page. If you have any questions or would like to book a consultation, reach out to us online. To contact us immediately or make a referral, call our 24/7 Patient Services Helpline at (877) 870-7012. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our ECT therapy programs.