Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) may be indicated for treatment of severely depressed older people if other measures are unsuccessful, or the episode is life threatening and an urgent treatment response is required.
ECT involves the induction of generalised seizuresECT is given under a general anaesthetic and with a muscular relaxant.
It is not known exactly how ECT works, but one of the theories is that it is believed to increase the level of certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain. These neurotransmitters are in short supply in depression.
ECT can produce memory problems. These often improve after a couple of months.
In addition, a general anaesthetic involves a small risk of adverse effects.