Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) - Uses
What is ECT used for?
Doctors might offer you ECT if you do not respond to other treatments. ECT can be used to treat these mental health conditions:
- Catatonia – this is when someone seems to be awake but does not respond to anyone or anything.
Doctors should offer you medication and talking treatments before ECT. The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that ECT should only be used when:
- all other treatments have not worked, or
- your illness may be life-threatening.
Doctors can offer you ECT to treat schizophrenia but this is not common, and it is not recommended by NICE.
For some people, ECT and medication may help, but the evidence is not conclusive. ECT should not be used as the standard way to manage schizophrenia or depression.
If your doctor is thinking about ECT, you can talk to them about any concerns you might have. ECT is a quicker treatment than medication or talking treatments when your symptoms are severe. You and your doctor should also talk about the risks of not having ECT. Risks might be:
- your mental health deteriorates,
- you are a serious risk to yourself, or
- you are a serious risk to other people.
What if I have had ECT before?
If you have had ECT in the past and it did not work, doctors should only use it again if they have tried everything else.
Your doctor might think more ECT will help. Doctors should talk to you, your carer, advocate or relatives to help you decide if you want more ECT.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays