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How is ECT Given?

ECT is given under general anesthesia. Patients are asked not to eat or drink from midnight the night before ECT. Before the treatment an intravenous line is inserted for giving medications. During the procedure, the patient receives a short acting anesthetic agent which puts the patient to sleep for about 5-10 minutes.

Once the patient falls asleep, a muscle relaxing medication is given to the patient to stop the muscles from moving during the seizure. When the patient is completely asleep and the muscles are well relaxed, a small electrical current is applied to the electrodes on the head. This stimulates the brain and produces the seizure, which lasts for about 15 seconds to two minutes.

Throughout the procedure, vital signs, heart rhythm, and brain electrical activity are closely monitored and the patient receives oxygen through a mask. When the treatment is completed, the patient is taken to a recovery area for monitoring by trained staff. Usually within 30 to 60 minutes, the patient can leave the recovery area.