Electroconvulsive therapy is used to treat depression that is resistant to medications and other treatments, severe depression coupled with psychosis or suicidal tendencies, severe mania, and dementia coupled with agitation or aggression, according to Mayo Clinic. A physician may also use ECT to treat schizophrenia, states WebMD.
ECT is especially effective for treating a type of schizophrenia called catatonia, which is characterized by motionless, repetitive or rigid muscle movements, periods of excitement and a lack of speech, reports WebMD. It is sometimes used to treat the conventional symptoms of schizophrenia, including hallucinations and delusions.
In rare cases when medication would harm the baby, a patient may undergo ECT during pregnancy, informs Mayo Clinic. ECT is also used to treat individuals unable to take certain medications due to side effects.
As of 2015, ECT is used to treat approximately 100,000 patients annually, according to Mental Health America.