Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): Myths and Facts

Lack of scientific information on ECT leads people to develop misconceptions about the treatment
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): Myths and Facts

Myth: ECT is given to make people forget everything.

Fact: Temporary forgetfulness is a side-effect of ECT which is mostly mild, reversible and limited to recent events. The ability to remember will remain intact after ECT course is completed.

Myth: If someone gets admitted in a psychiatric hospital, they would be given ECT without their knowledge.

Fact: ECT is always given after the doctor discusses with the patient and the family and only when they agree to it.

Myth: ECT experience is painful and horrifying.

Fact: ECT is given under anaesthesia and so the patient does not feel pain or electric shock.

Myth: ECT causes brain damage and may reduce the intelligence or change the personality.

Fact: ECT does not cause brain damage. It may cause temporary memory lapse of events around the course of ECT. ECT does not affect personality or overall intelligence.

Myth: ECT is given as a punishment.

Fact: ECT not a punishment. It is a medical procedure administered to treat a person's psychiatric condition. Moreover, it is not a painful procedure.

Myth: If ECT has been suggested by the doctor, it means that other treatments are not working and the condition is hopeless.

Fact: ECT is generally suggested by the doctors as, among the available options, it is the best for that patient at that moment. If one does not wish to receive ECT, doctors would suggest the next best option.

Compiled by Dr Preeti Sinha, Consultant Psychiatrist with National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore

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