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What is the procedure for electroconvulsive therapy for schizophrenia?

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a medical procedure for people with schizophrenia that uses electrical currents to cause a brain seizure. During the procedure, the person will be put to sleep with general anesthesia. He will also be given a muscle relaxant to make sure that he doesn't move during treatment. A doctor may also give the person an intravenous (IV) catheter in his arm, along with an oxygen mask.

The doctor will place electrode pads on one or both sides of the person's head, which will feed an electrical current directly into his brain. This current will trigger a seizure in his brain. The procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes, but the seizure will only last for about one minute. After the procedure, some people may feel disoriented or have short-term memory loss. After several treatments, severe symptoms of schizophrenia may be reduced.

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