Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, effectively treats severe depression that does not respond to medications or depression that includes psychosis or suicidal ideation, reports Mayo Clinic. ECT can provide quick relief from the intense mania associated with bipolar disorder and the aggression and agitation often present in individuals with dementia.
ECT treats the symptoms of illness- or schizophrenia-related catatonia, such as movement disturbances and lack of speech, according to Mayo Clinic. The procedure treats pregnant women with severe mental health conditions who cannot use drugs that may injure the fetus and the elderly who are vulnerable to medication side effects.
Patients receive ECT while under general anesthesia, explains Mayo Clinic. It triggers a brief seizure that appears to alter brain chemistry in a manner that reverses certain psychiatric disorders.