Electroconvulsive treatment in northern Virginia

Although it has often been negatively represented in media, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is actually one of the safest and most effective treatments in psychiatry. It was previously known as "electroshock therapy" or "shock therapy," due to the nature of how it works: by sending a brief electrical current to the brain. Now, ECT is endorsed by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as a proven form of stimulation therapy.

This is why we offer ECT at Dominion Hospital. Here, our psychiatrists combine extensive experience with advancements in technology, allowing us to deliver sustainable, long-term care.

For more information about Dominion Hospital's ECT treatment, call our First Step counselors 24/7 at (703) 538-2872.

About ECT

ECT is used as a method of treating those who have certain mental illnesses but have not been helped by other forms of treatment. In fact, the majority of our patients experience positive results within one or two treatments.

ECT for emergency medical care

ECT is also a valuable and effective first-line intervention in emergency situations. For example, it can quickly help patients who may be actively suicidal, psychotic, nutritionally compromised or catatonic.

Conditions ECT can treat

Our use of advanced ECT techniques and technologies allow for a gentler effect on memory than there was with older forms of ECT. This enables us to safely use ECT to treat many conditions, including:

  • Major depressive disorder—especially when experiencing resistance to medication, less than optimal results and psychotic depression
  • Bipolar disorder—including acute and severe mania, delirious mania or rapid-cycling mania
  • Schizophrenia disorder—specifically catatonic schizophrenia or psychosis that resists treatment with medication
  • Schizoaffective disorder—with failure to respond to medication and acute depressive or manic symptoms occurring with psychosis

What to expect during ECT

At Dominion Hospital, ECT is offered through both our inpatient and outpatient programs. To begin, you will receive a psychiatric and medical evaluation, which includes a physical examination, blood tests and an electrocardiogram (EKG).

Very few medical conditions prohibit the use of ECT. However, consult with your cardiologist or primary care provider before receiving treatment to be sure it is right for you.

Under the guidance of a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist and a nurse, you receive a short-acting general anesthetic and a muscle relaxant to ensure you are asleep for the procedure. Then, the procedure itself lasts only a few minutes, and you will typically be awake 10 to 20 minutes later.

ECT side effects

Although this therapy is generally safe and our staff closely monitors your treatment, there are some risks associated with ECT. Over time, these side effects can subside and/or be treated with over-the-counter medicine.

Some of these typically short-term side effects of ECT include:

  • Amnesia
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Jaw pain
  • Muscle ache
  • Nausea