When is ECT used?

Antidepressant medications and psychotherapy are often effective treatments but can take time to work. This delay can be dangerous for severely depressed patients who have intense suicidal thoughts or suffer from psychosis. ECT works faster than antidepressants and is a valuable treatment when patients are at risk for suicide. ECT can also be used when patients do not respond to antidepressant medications or cannot tolerate antidepressants, especially in elderly patients. Patients suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia may also benefit from ECT. ECT is often a treatment of choice in severely depressed pregnant women who don’t want to expose the fetus to antidepressant medications.