Our ECT Treatment Program Offers a Ray of Hope
For more than fifty years, Carrier Clinic has provided this well-researched and effective treatment option for those suffering from certain mental illnesses. Electroconvulsive Therapy is most often used to treat depression with psychosis, Bipolar Disorder, and treatment-resistant Schizophrenia. It is also helpful in the treatment of other disorders that have not responded to medication, such as Catatonia and chemical imbalances.
One of the largest Electroconvulsive Therapy treatment providers on the East Coast, Carrier Clinic has a long history in providing life-changing services through these procedures. Carrier’s staff are among the most experienced in the field, and use the most modern technology. In addition to our inpatient services we also offer outpatient ECT treatment services. In most cases, an evaluation and treatment can be scheduled within two days.
What is ECT?
It is a biological treatment where a controlled amount of electrical charge is administered to the front part of the brain that helps certain kinds of psychiatric illness. Extensive research has shown that ECT gives safe, effective, and rapid relief of symptoms for 80%-95% of selected patients.
Do ECT Treatments Hurt?
As patients are unconscious or asleep during ECT, nothing is felt during the procedure and is as safe as any other procedure administered under general anesthesia. In certain situations, it is safer than taking psychotropic substances for mental illnesses. After ECT, patients may experience some side effects including headache, muscle ache, drowsiness, confusion, or nausea. These side effects may last up to a few hours after the treatment but are not cause for alarm or concern.
Does Electroconvulsive Therapy Cause Brain Damage?
There is no evidence that Electroconvulsive Therapy causes brain damage.
What About Memory Problems?
Many people do report some confusion and memory problems after Electroconvulsive Therapy. Research has shown that this is a side effect for some people, but it is usually limited to events shortly before, during, and a short time after treatment. There is no evidence of any permanent change in overall memory ability, and you will not forget the important people, facts, or values in your life.
When is ECT Treatment Necessary?
ECT treatment is for patients for whom more traditional options like medications have not worked. It is sometimes considered as the first choice of treatment in cases involving severe psychotic depression, malnutrition, and pregnancy.
Who Might Be a Candidate For the ECT Treatment Program?
Treatment is most commonly prescribed for severe depression, where symptoms include:
- Sad, blue, low mood
- Altered appetite with weight changes
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Low energy
- Poor concentration
- Decreased interest in things that once gave you pleasure
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness
- Feelings of guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Increased worrying
What to Expect With ECT Treatments
Patients lay down on a bed and are given a muscle relaxant. Monitors are applied to check heart rate and EKG, oxygen level and pulse oximeter, as well as blood pressure. General anesthesia is administered intravenously, so the patient will be unconscious during the procedure. Electrodes are attached to the head, and a small amount of electrical current is introduced in short pulses, producing seizure activity. This causes the brain to produce and use serotonin and norepinephrine–brain chemicals that are low when someone is depressed.
How Many Treatments Are Needed?
The doctor will make this decision based on individual needs and patient response. However, the ECT treatment program usually consists of six to 12 treatments, given up to three times a week. This stimulates the brain to correct imbalances in the brain centers that are responsible for sleep, appetite, mood, and thought processes. The attending psychiatrist monitors patient response and mood to determine the exact number of treatments best suited for each individual. Maintenance therapy is also available to help prevent another episode of depression for patients who experience recurring symptoms.
Testimonials About Carrier’s ECT Treatment Program
I struggled with the challenges of severe treatment-resistant Bipolar Disorder for approximately six and a half years as an adolescent and young adult, but only until I found Carrier Clinic and their terrific ECT Department. It was July 1st, 2004, I was in my early 20’s and was a patient on the Acute Care Unit and was in the midst of one of my worst depressive episodes. Nothing was working for me in terms of medications. On this day my psychiatrist on the unit, whom I really trusted, suggested ECT to me. I was very much afraid to try ECT, but with support from my family and the staff on the unit I nervously consented to have my first treatment the next day.
On the night before my first treatment, Fran (The ECT Coordinator) came to the unit to meet with my parents and me, she was extremely caring and compassionate, she knew all about the treatment of ECT, and tried to ease any concerns and fears that we had.
Once I started having my initial series of ECT Treatments my life turned around dramatically. Once I had completed three to five treatments, my depression was dissolving, and by the end of my series of ten treatments I was feeling better than I had in years and I sincerely believed that the ECT had literally saved my life. It was the only treatment that had ever really worked for me.
In the more than twelve years since then I have continued with my ECT at Carrier Clinic as a maintenance treatment with occasional series or mini-series. I have spoken out about the success that I have had with ECT, and it is my goal to do all that I can to change the negative attitudes, stigma, and fears that are out there relating to this life-changing and often life-saving treatment for severe mood disorders such as Depression and Bipolar Disorder.
Every year on the anniversary of my first ECT treatment I try to spend time with close friends and reflect on how this day changed my life and saved my life, as well as the personal successes that I have had in the years since then that would not have been possible without ECT.
With the 7th year anniversary of the day of my first ECT Treatment rapidly approaching on July 2nd, I find it important to stop and reflect on all of the ways that the treatment of ECT and ll of the staff of the Carrier Clinic ECT Department have made the past seven years of my life so much more fruitful and fulfilling than the years preceding them.
I just wanted to thank you again for saving my life. If it hadn’t been for you and the ECT, I truly don’t think that I would have made it out of my depression. I will be forever grateful to you and your wonderful staff.
I am writing this letter to let you know the ECT Nursing Staff at Carrier Clinic are, hands down, about the best. The care with which they provide the patients is simply wonderful. I have been an ECT outpatient for nearly a year and each time I come to your facility I am met with smiles and comforting words from the nurses on duty.
Though I fear I may miss a name or two, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the following people whom I’ve come in contact with on your ECT staff. Marilyn, Sheri, Barbara, Kara, Ida, Susan, Gabrielle and Stacey among others. I appreciate all their efforts in making me feel at ease before, during and after my treatment. You have a winning team!
PS: Carrier Saved Me! I’m in a much better place now, thanks to your caring staff.
My mom is now 88 and, truth be told, I do not think she would be here, or at least living as independently as she is, if it had not been for Carrier. She was first diagnosed with depression about 18 years ago – after several years of inpatient and outpatient help and several different drug regimens at Carrier, we began ECT treatment. Dr. Mehta has been her doctor since near the beginning.
ECT has been a Godsend for us – even though she has spiraled down into a couple of depressions over these past 15 or so years – Carrier and your staff have always been there to help us and help her to come back. I just want you to know, that the ECT unit is beyond words FABULOUS. I have been working with Gabrielle for all these years and you could not have a more kind, patient and calming influence running that area. Another employee I have interfaced with over these years … from the days when the ECT outpatients used to have a brown bag lunch, and we would sit around and chat – is Ida. She knows every patient in there and is always expressing genuine care and concern for each individual’s specific issues. My mom speaks extremely highly of all the nurses and staff in the ECT treatment area – the love, kindness and gentleness – and the genuine care and concern they express – is without question rare to find anywhere, and especially in the medical field today – to be treated with dignity, humanity and concern. You should be extremely proud of the job being carried on by the ECT unit!
Have you or a loved one been helped by ECT Treatments at Carrier?
Or make donation to Carrier Clinic designated toward our ECT Services.
To find out more about the inpatient and outpatient ECT treatment services and other programs and services at Carrier, please contact Community Relations by calling (908) 281-1513. If you need clinical information or would like to schedule treatments, please contact our Coordinator at (908) 281-1440.