Electroconvulsive Therapy

What is ECT?

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a medical procedure used to treat some psychiatric illnesses by causing a short, painless, brain seizure under general anesthesia. Although it is not completely understood, studies suggest ECT leads to the same changes in the brain as antidepressants, but more quickly. ECT is highly effective, with up to a 60 to 90 percent success rate in severely depressed patients. ECT is endorsed by the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the U.S. Surgeon General.

Why it's done

ECT can provide rapid, significant improvements in severe symptoms of several mental health conditions. ECT is used to treat:
  • Severe depression (unipolar or bipolar depression) - ECT may be considered a firstline treatment when the depression poses an imminent risk to the life or medical status of a patient.
  • Treatment-resistant depression - this refers to depression that has not improved after several trials of different types of medications and psychotherapy.
  • Severe mania - which poses a threat to the safety or health of the patient, or is not responding to medication treatment.
  • Catatonia - a neurological condition in which patients experience extreme immobility or extreme motor excitement, both of which can be life-threatening. 
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses.

Our Partners


The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans has teaching, research, and health care functions state-wide, through its six professional schools and twelve Centers of Excellence, as well as the more than one hundred hospitals and other health science related institutions with which they maintain affiliations.


The second-oldest medical school in the Deep South and the 15th oldest medical school in the United States, Tulane School of Medicine is equipping the next generation of medical professionals with the tools to succeed in a rapidly changing world and shape the future of health care.