Piedmont Behavioral Health at Eastside

2160 Fountain Drive
Snellville, GA 30078
24 Hours / 7 days

Piedmont Physicians Behavioral Health Hospitalists Macon

340 Hospital Drive, Building E
Macon, GA 31217
24 hours/7 days

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe, effective and modern psychiatric treatment that we offer for conditions such as severe depression, schizophrenia and mania that don't respond to other treatment methods. About 80-90 percent of patients see significant improvement in symptoms in a relatively short amount of time.

If you would like to know more about ECT or think you may be a candidate for this service, call 478-741-1355.


What is ECT?

During this treatment, the patient is put under anesthesia and closely monitored by a physician while receiving brief electrical stimulation to the scalp. The nerve-cell activity releases chemicals in the brain and helps restore normal functioning.

Severe depression is the most frequent condition ECT is used to treat. However, this therapy is also an effective approach for:

  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Severe mania that doesn't respond to medicine 

While medications and therapy can help most people with these disorders, some patients don't respond to medications. In contrast, while others can't tolerate the side effects. Others whose illness has made them suicidal may require the relief that ECT can provide.

ECT should only be considered as a treatment option if your physician sees it as plausible for your condition. The specialists in our behavioral health program will thoroughly discuss your care plan so you feel fully informed.

How does ECT work?

ECT is administered by a treatment team of doctors, nurses and anesthesia specialists. It's given in a hospital, either on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

With the patient lying down, the doctor injects a sleeping medication into a vein, and the patient falls asleep. The doctor then injects a muscle-relaxing medication while the patient breathes pure oxygen. When the patient's muscles are relaxed, a brief electrical charge is applied to the scalp. This stimulates the brain into a seizure that lasts about a minute and is accompanied by the release of chemicals from the nerves in the brain.

Mild contractions of the muscles occur during the seizure. When the procedure is over, the patient is taken to a recovery area and observed by trained staff until he or she is ready to return home.

ECT is usually given two to three times a week for a total of about six to 12 treatments. Some patients may require more than 12 treatments for maximum benefit.

What are the main side effects of ECT?

On awakening from ECT, patients may experience some confusion, which generally clears within an hour. Memory for recent events, dates, names of friends, public events, addresses and telephone numbers may not be as good.

In most patients, the memory disturbance goes away within a few days or weeks. However, it occasionally continues in a mild form for months or longer. Many patients will find that their memories are somewhat hazy from when they were ill; the same problem is frequently experienced by depressed patients who do not receive ECT.

Can ECT cause brain damage or permanent memory loss?

There is no evidence that ECT causes brain damage. Patients receiving ECT show no elevation of brain enzymes released into the bloodstream when brain damage occurs, such as after a stroke.

The amount of electricity used raises brain temperature less than one-tenth of a degree and cannot cause electrical injury. ECT does not cause memory loss in most people. Most importantly, ECT does not interfere with the ability to learn. Many studies have shown better learning after ECT than before it, mainly due to improved concentration from the relief of depression.

In a few rare instances, patients have not regained specific personal memories when tested six months or longer after ECT. Generally, these memories are for events in the months immediately preceding ECT. Memory problems in patients with psychiatric illnesses result more often from medications, incompletely treated diseases and aging.

Must a patient permit ECT?

Yes. A patient must give informed consent for ECT in writing after hearing an explanation of the procedure, its potential benefits, risks and side effects and a description of available alternative treatments. The patient can withdraw his or her consent at any time.


For Referring Professionals 

If you are a referring professional, call 478-464-8169 to refer your patient for ECT treatment in Macon. To schedule a consultation with one of our physicians at Eastside, call 770-985-6486.

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