Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) in Fort Lauderdale

If traditional treatment fails to improve your severe depression symptoms, our ECT program, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, can make a difference. Let us help you see a future beyond severe depression.

A man discuss electroconvulsive therapy (ect) with with therapist

If you have major depression or another mental illness, you may feel there’s no hope in sight. But at Fort Lauderdale Behavioral Health Center, we want you to know that you’re not alone — and treatment is available.

We are leaders in Broward County for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Our psychiatrists, anesthesiologists and registered nurses have extensive training in this brain stimulation therapy. You receive compassionate care before, during and after treatment, focusing on your comfort and peace of mind.

What is ECT?

ECT delivers short bursts of electrical currents to your brain. The currents produce a brief, mild seizure. ECT helps neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers in your brain) work better. If you think of your brain as an electrical appliance, ECT reconnects all the circuits to help improve your brain’s function. ECT can increase serotonin levels in your brain, the neurotransmitter affecting your mood and emotions.

ECT with Dr. Pascal

Does ECT Work for Depression?

ECT is highly effective for major depression and other mental illnesses. It’s ideal for people whose symptoms have not improved with medication, psychotherapy or other treatments. According to the American Psychiatric Association, ECT helps about 80% of people with severe depression.

We may recommend ECT for adults 18 and up (and adolescents in some cases) with:

Is ECT Electroshock Therapy?

ECT, which used to be called “electroshock therapy,” has many negative associations. Unfortunately, these misconceptions are mostly the result of inaccurate media representations. The treatment has often been depicted as a form of punishment or electrocution.

But the current form of ECT is very different. It’s an effective, evidence-based treatment that produces fast results in people with severe mood disorders. ECT is highly customized, and our experience with this therapy means we tailor treatment to your needs.

ECT Versus TMS: What’s the Difference?

Both ECT and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are brain stimulation therapies for treatment-resistant depression, but they have several key differences:

  • ECT uses electrical energy; TMS uses magnetic energy.
  • ECT is available on an inpatient and outpatient basis; TMS is only available for outpatients.
  • ECT is approved for several conditions; TMS is only for depression.
  • ECT is for adults (18 and up) and adolescents in special circumstances; TMS is only for adults (18 and up).

How Does ECT Work?

Before ECT:

  1. You receive a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation.
  2. We do blood and urine tests.
  3. We also do an electrocardiogram (EKG) to make sure you’re healthy enough for the treatment. An EKG records your heart’s electrical activity. People with cardiac conditions cannot have ECT.

On the day of treatment:

  1. We do additional urine tests to make sure there are no drugs in your system that could interfere with ECT. These drugs include lithium, anticonvulsants and benzodiazepines.
  2. Once in our dedicated ECT suite, you receive a muscle relaxant and general anesthesia through an IV in your arm. This medication puts you to sleep during the procedure, so you don’t feel any pain.
  3. We attach electrodes to your scalp and deliver short electrical pulses to your brain to trigger controlled seizures.

An ECT treatment takes about 20 minutes. Most people receive 6 to 12 sessions over several weeks. If symptoms return, you may need additional monthly treatments.

What Are the Side Effects of ECT?

The most common side effects of ECT include:

  • Confusion (short-term)
  • Headaches
  • Jaw or face pain
  • Memory loss
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea

Can I Drive During ECT?

You should not drive during the weeks that you’re getting ECT treatments and for several weeks after. We understand this makes it challenging for some patients to get the care they need. Our staff offers concierge services to help you:

  • Get to and from your ECT appointments
  • Schedule appointments
  • Manage side effects

Fort Lauderdale Behavioral Health can help. For more information or make an appointment regarding this treatment option, Please contact our ECT Nurse Manager at 954-734-2000 (ext. 2261 or 2063).

ECT at Fort Lauderdale Behavioral Health Center is currently available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. To send over any clinical information, please use fax number: 954-734-2172.

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