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ECT: Pros and Cons (& How Ketamine Can Help)

Jan 23, 2022 9:48:43 PM

ECT Pros and cons - blog

When it comes to treating severe depression, there are a few different options available.

Some people may choose to take medication, while others may opt for a more rigorous approach, like electroconvulsive therapy. In this blog, we will discuss the pros and cons of ECT (electric convulsion therapy) and how it compares to other treatments.

What is electroconvulsive therapy?

Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is a treatment that is done under general anesthesia. The treatment consists of sending small electrical currents through the brain to cause a brief seizure. Electroconvulsive therapy has been around for many years, and although has caught a bad rep, ECT can cause the brain's chemistry to change, thus reversing symptoms of certain mental health conditions.

The negative stigma around ECT is often based on old treatments in which large doses of electricity were administered without anesthesia, leading to memory loss, bone fractures, and other harsh side effects.

Electroconvulsive therapy is a much safer treatment today. While it may still cause some side effects, these are greatly reduced when compared to the risks associated with old-fashioned shock therapy and can be managed effectively by an experienced therapist who knows how best to protect their patient's brain during this procedure.

The use of ECT is usually an option when medications aren't tolerated or other forms of therapy have come to be unsuccessful.

ECT has been used to treat:

  • Severe depression
  • Treatment-resistant depression
  • Severe mania
  • Agitation and aggression in people with dementia.
  • During pregnancy, when medications can't be taken because they might harm the developing fetus.
  • In older adults who can't tolerate drug side effects.
  • In people who prefer ECT treatments over taking medications.

What are the pros?

  • Safer today than previous ECT treatments
  • No medication side effects
  • Works slightly quicker than TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation)
  • Patients are given muscle relaxers and general anesthesia, making them unaware of the 60-second seizure they experience.

What are the Cons?

  • ECT requires patients to take a break from life affairs; caregivers, psychotherapy, and hospitalization are all recommended.
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Increased Heart rate and/ or blood pressure
  • Transient arrhythmia changes
  • Can cause memory loss

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less invasive, same outcome

Ketamine has become a common alternative to ECT. Ketamine is a medication that is often used to treat severe depression. It works by blocking certain receptors in the brain, which helps to improve symptoms of depression, reduces pain, improves your mood, and helps increase energy.

Ketamine has gained popularity as an alternative treatment for depression because it can be administered by an IV, eliminating the need to give patients anesthesia or hospitalize them. It also causes a much lower risk of side effects than ECT and may have fewer complications. Due to ECT's potential side effects, other methods such as intravenously administered ketamine, should be considered first.

There are many pros to ketamine infusion therapy. Some of these include:

  • Faster results
  • Fewer side effects
  • Less expensive
  • Performed on an outpatient basis
  • No need for anesthesia

So, which is better - ketamine or ECT?

Although ECT is more invasive in comparison to ketamine IV infusion therapy, what works best for one person may not work as well for another. It is important to discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor, and to decide which treatment is right for you.


If you are considering ketamine as an alternative for treatment-resistant depression, please contact us today! We offer cutting-edge Ketamine protocols that have helped thousands of patients get back on their feet and achieve optimal health. We would be happy to discuss our treatment options and help you decide which one is right for you.

Find out if your insurance company covers Ketamine Treatments.

Disclaimer: As of September 29, 2023, NeuroMend no longer offers Spravato treatments. We apologize for any inconvenience and encourage you to consult with our team or your healthcare provider for alternative options.

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neuromendicon2We are an Evidence-Based Center of Excellence and the leading provider of Ketamine Infusions, IV Infusions and Ketamine Consulting Services for Ketamine Clinics and IV Therapy Clinics.

We Provide Effective Treatment For The Following Conditions: Major Depressive Disorders, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Bipolar Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Chronic Migraines, Severe Anxiety, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Syndromes

Neuromend Team

Written by Neuromend Team

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