How can I prepare for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?

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Before receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments, here's how you need to prepare:
  • Your doctor will explain the ECT procedure to you, including its benefits, risks, and alternatives.
  • Talk with your doctor about all medications you take. This includes prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal supplements. You may need to stop certain medications before starting a series of ECT treatments.
  • You will have tests to make sure ECT is safe for you. You may have blood tests, a check of your heart and lungs, and a heart rhythm test (electrocardiogram).
  • With each ECT treatment, do not eat or drink after midnight the night before. Your doctor may tell you to take some medications with a sip of water on the morning of your treatment.
  • If you are having ECT as an outpatient, arrange for a ride home. You should not drive at any time during a course of treatment.
Before electroconvulsive therapy or ECT for depression, you will need to have a psychiatric evaluation and a physical exam. This is to make sure ECT is the right -- and safe -- choice for you. You will likely also have a blood test and an echocardiogram ("echo"). An echo is done to make sure your heart is healthy and that ECT will not be risky for your heart.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.