Electroconvulsive Therapy is a treatment that uses electrical pulses to stimulate the brain. ECT is useful in treating various mental health issues, including anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression. While ECT isn’t right for everyone, it can be an effective treatment for those who suffer from serious mental illness.
If you’re considering ECT, be sure to talk to your doctor about all of the risks and benefits before making a decision.
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at a controversial topic – electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). For some people, ECT can be a life-saving treatment, but it’s often misunderstood. We’ll be exploring what ECT is, how it works, and how it can be useful in maintaining mental fitness.
What Is Mental Fitness?
“Mental fitness is the state of being able to think properly, cope with stress, make firm decisions, and remember things clearly.”
It is something we all need to be able to do in our everyday lives. Unfortunately, mental fitness is often overlooked until it’s too late.
That’s why it is important to be proactive about maintaining your mental fitness throughout your life.
One way to do this is through electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
What Are the Benefits of Mental Fitness?
Mental fitness is often overlooked in favor of physical fitness, but it is just as important for overall health.
Mental fitness refers to the ability to maintain a healthy state of mind, even in the state of stress or adversity.
There are many benefits to mental fitness, including improved mood, reduced anxiety, improved cognitive function, and increased resilience.
Mental fitness can be achieved through a variety of activities, including exercise, relaxation techniques, and positive thinking.
Everyone can benefit from mental fitness, and it is never too late to start working on it.
How to Maintain Mental Fitness?
It’s common knowledge that physical activity improves health, but maybe you weren’t aware that it also has positive effects on the mind.
That’s right, exercise can help improve your mood, cognitive function, and overall mental well-being.
So how does exercise help with mental fitness?
⦁ It releases endorphins which have mood-boosting effects.
⦁ It also helps to reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality, both of which are important for maintaining mental health.
⦁ Exercising increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes neuronal development and protects against cognitive loss.
Few other things you can do to maintain mental fitness:
⦁ Make sure to eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep. Both of these things are important for overall health and well-being, and they can also help to reduce stress levels. Additionally,
⦁ Try to socialize with friends and family as much as possible. Social interaction has been linked with improved mental health, so spending time with loved ones can be beneficial for your mind as well as your body.
⦁ Practice relaxation techniques.
⦁ Try to think positively.
What Is Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)?
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a treatment for severe mental illness. It involves passing an electric current through the brain to trigger a brief seizure.
ECT can provide relief from symptoms of mental illness, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
ECT is usually done under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep and pain-free during the procedure.
The electrical current is passed through your brain for a very short time, causing a seizure that lasts for about 30 seconds.
You may have some side effects after the procedure, such as:
⦁ Confusion
⦁ Headache
⦁ Muscle soreness
These side effects are usually mild and go away quickly.
ECT is considered safe and effective for treating severe mental illness. It has been used for years, and there is a great deal of research to support its use. If you want to undergo ECT, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of this treatment.
What Is the Role of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Maintaining Mental Fitness?
It’s no secret that mental fitness is key to a happy and successful life.
And while there are many ways to maintain mental fitness, one of the most important is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Although ECT is not without its risks, it’s generally considered safe and effective when used appropriately.
And for people with severe mental illness, it can be a lifesaving treatment.
How Does Electroconvulsive Therapy Work?

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Before beginning a course of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), it is required to have a full mental evaluation.
This evaluation should include a medical checkup, standard blood tests, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) to monitor the patient’s heart health.
Before electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be performed, the patient must give written informed consent. The consent procedure in cases when a patient lacks the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves is regulated by individual states (for example, a court-appointed guardian).
Before settling on a course of treatment, the patient and their loved ones should consult with the psychiatrist to weigh all of their available options.
Before they provide their written permission for the operation, they will be provided with sufficient information about the procedure, including its potential benefits, risks, and unfavorable consequences.
Patients receive ECT twice or three times weekly for about 6 to 12 treatments. The number of treatments required is determined by the severity of illness and the rate at which it improves.
During ECT, a series of brief, carefully modulated electrical pulses are used to activate the patient’s brain. When this happens, it triggers a brief but intense seizure in the brain.
Similar to waking up from short-term anesthesia during minor surgery, the patient sleeps through the operation.
Electric shock therapy (ECT) is typically at least partially covered by insurance policies that address mental health issues.
How Exactly Is ECT Performed?
⦁ Patients undergoing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are often sedated with a muscle relaxant and put under anesthesia for the procedure.
⦁ The patient’s scalp is electroded, and a carefully calibrated electric current is delivered.
⦁ The brain has a temporary seizure due to this current.
⦁ Relaxed muscles mean that only very minor movements of the feet and hands will be noticeable during a seizure.
⦁ All patients are closely watched while they are receiving treatment.
When the patient finally comes out, they are typically disoriented and have no recollection of the therapy or events leading up to it.
The haze of perplexity usually dissipates quickly.
To treat severe depression, ECT may be administered two to 3 times weekly for 2 to 4 weeks.
What Is ECT Done For?
Several mental health illnesses can have quick, substantial decreases in symptom severity after undergoing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). ECT has been used to treat:
⦁ Psychosis (lack of introspection), suicidal ideation, or a refusal to eat.
⦁ Depression that is severe yet does not respond to therapy with medicine or other methods (also called ⦁ treatment-resistant depression).
⦁ Extreme mania which is a symptom of bipolar disease and is characterized by strong euphoria, agitation, or hyperactivity. Mania can range from mild to severe. Mania’s other symptoms include difficulty making decisions, engaging in dangerous or impulsive conduct, abusing substances, and experiencing psychosis.
⦁ Movement and speech impairments, as well as other symptoms, associated with catatonia. It is related to schizophrenia and several other psychiatric diseases. Sometimes a medical condition results in catatonia.
⦁ Dementia-related agitation and hostility may be difficult to manage and have a major impact on the quality of life of those living with the disease.
⦁ ECT may be used when drugs or other therapies don’t work.
Other Cases when ECT is Opted as Treatment Choice:
⦁ Medications that could be harmful to the growing fetus and are generally avoided during pregnancy, so pregnant ladies with mental issues are advised to undergo ECT.
⦁ When treating elderly patients who are sensitive to pharmacological adverse effects, ECT is performed.
⦁ In cases where patients would rather undergo ECT than take medicine.
⦁ In cases where electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been proven effective before.
Is ECT Effective?
Extensive studies have shown that ECT is quite successful in treating serious depression. It is effective in treating major depressive disorder in about 80% of patients with no other underlying medical conditions.
ECT is an efficient treatment of choice for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and other serious mental diseases.
ECT is sometimes used to treat catatonia, a disease characterized by the patient’s growing agitation and unresponsiveness. If a person with catatonia refuses to eat or drink, they may severely get dehydrated or hurt themselves seriously.
When drugs and talk therapy have failed, ECT is often the last resort. Patients who are at suicidal risk or whose conditions are particularly severe may potentially benefit from ECT.
The American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the National Institute of Mental Health, comparable organizations in Canada, Great Britain, and many other nations all acknowledge the efficacy of ECT in treating severe mental diseases.
Despite its apparent success, ECT is not a panacea for people with severe mental illness. Most persons who have been successfully treated with ECT will require ongoing maintenance treatment to prevent relapse.
What this usually entails is some sort of psychotherapy and/or medication, and in certain cases, continuing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
What Are the Associated Risks and Benefits of ECT?
It is considered to be a last-resort treatment option when other methods, such as medication and talk therapy, have failed.
Risks:
Risks are present with ECT, as they are with any medical technique. ECT has been linked to:
⦁ Impaired learning
⦁ Short-term memory loss. Some patients report memory loss for incidents that happened weeks or months before their medication began. For the most part, memory issues can be resolved in as little as a few months.
⦁ Long-term issues, such as irreversible memory loss, may affect certain patients.
⦁ Disorientation
⦁ Confusion
⦁ During ECT, general anesthesia is administered, which carries the same hazards as any other anesthetic operation, including minor surgeries.
On treatment day, ECT side effects most often experienced include:
⦁ Nausea
⦁ Headaches
⦁ Tiredness
⦁ Disorientation
⦁ Short-term memory loss.
However, these side effects are typically temporary and generally subside within a few weeks after treatment.
Benefits:
The costs of inadequate care for serious mental illness must be weighed against above-mentioned risks or downsides of ECT.
Some patients may find that the benefits of ECT outweigh the risks of discontinuing drug treatment altogether.
ECT may be more effective than drugs in the short term. It may be especially helpful in cases when:
⦁ The patient is suicidal
⦁ Drugs are not working
⦁ Or the patient cannot handle the adverse effects of the meds.
ECT can provide relief from symptoms of mental illness that are severely disabling and potentially life-threatening.
Additional Methods of Brain Stimulation
Other methods for brain stimulation are:
⦁ Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
⦁ Vagus Nerve Stimulation
⦁ Deep Brain Stimulation
⦁ Magnetic Seizure Therapy
When alternative treatments for depression have failed, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) may be employed. Magnetic fields that alternate rapidly are used to stimulate various regions of the brain.
TMS, in contrast to ECT, is a noninvasive treatment that does not result in unconsciousness or seizures.
Pain at the stimulation site, twitching of the muscles, and headaches are the most common negative reactions to TMS. Treatment with TMS typically consists of four to six weekly sessions.
Although vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) was first designed to treat seizure disorders, it has since been found to be effective in treating resistant forms of depression.
Vagus nerve stimulation entails inserting a small electrical pulse generator beneath the patient’s skin in the chest, from which electrical current is sent intermittently to stimulate the vagus nerve in the neck.
Conclusion
ECT is the best treatment in patients that are on continuous medication for their psychological illness. Even though the symptoms of the mental illness are relieved, patients are still required to undergo ECT after regular intervals to prevent the recurrence.
However, ECT may not be effective for all patients and it may take longer to improve fully from the illness.

References

⦁ ECT, TMS and other brain stimulation therapies. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/ECT-TMS-and-Other-Brain-Stimulation-Therapies

⦁ John M. Eisenberg Center for Clinical Decisions and Communications Science., (2012, March 19). Therapies for treatment-resistent depression. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK95341/

⦁ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Brain stimulation therapies. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/brain-stimulation-therapies/brain-stimulation-therapies