1. ECT, formerly known as shock therapy, uses an electrical current to create a therapeutic seizure, which causes a dramatic reset of the brain.
2. Typically 10 sessions over a four-week period. The first three sessions require hospitalization.
3. A psychiatrist prescribes ECT when previous attempts at treating depression have produced unsatisfactory results, the depression is serious, a patient is possibly suicidal, or nothing else works.
4. Treatments are short and require anesthesia and muscle relaxants (hospitalization for the first three treatments). Transportation has to be arranged to and from each session, as patients require 2-3 hours to recover.
5. Treatment costs $2,500 per session or $25,000, plus one week of hospital care, which is not included. (Answers.com estimates $50,000 for one week in the hospital).
6. Most insurers cover the treatment.
7. Headaches, muscle aches, cognition issues, short-term memory issues, possible long-term memory loss, and in some cases, possible improvement in memory.
8. Initial efficacy is 50-80% . However, about 64-84% of patients who respond relapse within six months.
9. After treatment, drug therapy/medication is usually continued, and some patients receive maintenance ECT.