Mobile Evaluation Team - T.I.M.E. TEAM
The Brook Hospital
Immediate – within 1 hour
Mobile – within a 45 mile radius
Evaluations – Psychiatric and Addiction Evaluation
For an immediate professional response to a psychiatric/addiction
crisis, the following services are provided:
To request a free, on-site evaluation, call T.I.M.E. (502)
896-0495 or 1-866-373-6085
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is recognized by the National
Institute of Mental Health as a successful treatment option for
severe depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Today, as
many as 100,000 people in the United States receive ECT each year
to treat these illnesses. Clinical and technical improvements in
ECT have resulted in more effective treatments with fewer side
effects. ECT can work faster than psychiatric medications or
psychotherapy and it can help when other treatments have failed,
providing dramatic, life-saving results.
Electroconvulsive Therapy began in the early 1930’s, when
researchers injected chemicals in people to induce seizures. The
chemicals were soon replaced with electrical currents. Today, ECT
is a highly refined procedure, with precisely calculated electrical
currents administered in a controlled medical setting.
Who might benefit from ECT?
ECT is most commonly indicated for people with severe
depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia that haven’t
improved with medications or other treatment modalities. Patients
with these illnesses may experience sadness, despair, difficulty
concentrating, loss of appetite and inability to sleep. They may
also have suicidal tendencies. Today, as many as 100,000 people in
the U.S. receive ECT each year to treat these mental illnesses.
What can be expected?
A small intravenous (IV) catheter is inserted in the patient’s
arm or hand by a registered nurse or anesthesiologist. An
anesthetic is given through the IV, along with a strong muscle
relaxant. These general anesthetic agents allow the patient to
drift gently off to sleep. A mouth guard is used to protect one’s
teeth and tongue. While asleep, a small, precisely calculated dose
of electricity is delivered between two electrodes to induce a
closely monitored seizure. The patient wakes up after approximately
ten to fifteen minutes without discomfort or memory of the
treatment. The patient is then carefully observed in the recovery
room until discharge. Under normal circumstances, the entire
procedure, from admission to discharge lasts about 2 - 2 1/2
What are the main side effects of ECT?
It is common for patients to experience some confusion
immediately after an ECT treatment. A patient may wake up and not
remember where he or she is or why he or she is receiving ECT. This
generally lasts from a few minutes to several hours. Often patients
describe their thinking as “feeling hazy” or “clouded”. This
typically goes away when the course of treatment is completed. Many
patients experience temporary loss of recent or remote memories
with ECT, especially with bilateral ECT. Doctors may use special
techniques (such as right unilateral ECT) to minimize effects on
memory. In most patients, memory disturbances usually resolve
within a few days or weeks, but occasionally may continue in a mild
form for a period of months or even longer. Other common side
effects that may occur on the days a patient has an ECT treatment
are nausea, headache, muscle aches, or jaw discomfort. These side
effects can be effectively treated with medications to lessen them
or alleviate them completely.
How many treatments are given and how often?
A patient usually receives an ECT treatment two to three times a
week for a total of six to twelve treatments. ECT is an
exceptionally effective medical treatment, helping 90% of patients
who receive it. Most patients remain well for many months after a
treatment course; however, monthly or bimonthly maintenance
treatments are also an option to maintain disease remission.
How does ECT work?
It is still not completely understood how ECT helps treat mental
illnesses. It is known, however, that many neurochemical changes
occur during and after seizure activity. It is theorized that when
ECT is administered on a regular basis, these neurochemical changes
build upon one another and reduce the symptoms of the mental
Despite its unpopular past, electroconvulsive therapy is now a
safe and effective treatment for severe depression, bipolar
disorder and schizophrenia. ECT can work faster than psychiatric
medications or psychotherapy can, and it can help when other
treatments have failed. It is also safe for elderly patients and
pregnant patients. Ten Broeck Hospital KMI successfully performs
400-500 ECT treatments annually on an inpatient and outpatient
basis. Our experienced team of psychiatrists, anesthesiologists,
and registered nurses has received extensive specialized training
in electroconvulsive therapy in order to provide our patients with
the very best care in a safe, compassionate environment.
For more information on Ten Broeck’s ECT program, call Laura
Lagerstrom, RN, Director of ECT, at 502.426.6380 •