Psychiatry (Adult)



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Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

The University of Toledo Medical Center offers Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), the most advanced treatment approach for individuals for whom medication or psychotherapy alone hasn’t worked.

Our Team

Our ECT team has received expert training, and currently conducts treatment on an inpatient and outpatient basis. We have seen great success in restoring our patients’ abilities to function at levels not maintained through medication alone. 

We encourage our patients to make educated, informed decisions when considering ECT as a treatment option, and we welcome the inclusion of family and medical providers to be actively involved as the patient decides whether this treatment is right for them.

What is ECT?

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a highly effective, generally low risk procedure used for certain psychiatric disorders, primarily major depression, mania and some forms of schizophrenia. It involves the use of a brief, controlled electrical current to induce a seizure within the brain. This is believed to result in certain biochemical changes that may cause remission in the episode of illness. The procedure is performed with the patient under general anesthesia using a muscle relaxant to ensure a safe controlled seizure.

Who can benefit?

ECT is an alternative treatment for patients who have not responded well to medication alone. It can be used in conjunction with medication therapy for:

  • severe depression
  • mania
  • schizophrenia
  • catatonia – and/or non-response to psychotropic drugs or when medications are contraindicated
  • emergency treatment for acutely suicidal patients

The procedure is generally safe for all ages, including the geriatric population, and may be a treatment option if criteria for ECT is met and the patient is medically cleared to have general anesthesia.

What can I expect?

ECT starts with an inpatient or outpatient “index” series, consisting of treatment three times each week, for an average of 6-12 treatments. If indicated, maintenance ECT is given on an outpatient basis at specified less frequent intervals after the completion of the index ECT series to maintain clinical improvement and prevent recurrence or relapse. Maintenance ECT is generally discontinued when the patient has achieved control of target symptoms.

Side Effects

For most patients, the side effects of ECT are relatively minor. The most common side effects involve:

  • headache
  • muscle soreness
  • nausea
  • temporary confusion
  • and memory difficulties

Headache, muscle soreness, and nausea are usually mild and can be prevented or at least diminished by medications. Confusion and memory problems may build up over a course of ECT, but will diminish as the treatment frequency declines and is completed. The risk of death is very rare, about 1 per 10,000 patients for typical cases, slightly higher in those with certain types of major pre-existing medical problems. Serious complications, often related to anesthesia, are also quite rare and will be discussed in length at the time of physician consult.

To make a referral or for more information, please call 419.383.5158.  Fax relevant patient information to 419.383.3321 (attn:ECT)
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  • Health Science Campus
  • Ruppert Health Center
  • 3125 Transverse Dr., Toledo, Ohio 43614
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Last Updated: 2/26/20