Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) in Orlando

Find relief from severe depression.

We offer electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for adults (18 and older) with severe depression whose symptoms have not improved with medication and therapy. ECT may also help people with catatonia, bipolar disorder and some types of schizoaffective disorder. At Central Florida Behavioral Hospital, our ECT staff provides compassionate, individualized care in a comfortable setting.

A pensive older woman sits in an empty behavioral health lobby while waiting to be seen

ECT Treatment Center: Why Choose Us?

We are among only a few providers in the Orlando area to offer ECT for treatment-resistant depression. At our behavioral health hospital, you’ll find:

  • No-cost transportation: Driving is not recommended during ECT treatment, so we offer complimentary transportation to and from ECT appointments (within 30 miles). This convenient service helps you access the care you need.
  • Skilled providers: Our ECT staff includes psychiatrists, registered nurses and anesthesiologists with extensive training in electroconvulsive therapy. They tailor treatment to your needs while minimizing side effects.
  • Comprehensive care: In addition to ECT, we offer several inpatient and outpatient services for people with mental health disorders. Whether you require acute hospitalization, partial hospitalization or an intensive outpatient program, we’re by your side at every stage of treatment.
  • Patient and family education: We take the time to explain how ECT works and what you can expect, and we address your questions or concerns. Our staff offers no-cost ECT assessments and provides the education you need to make an informed, confident decision.
  • Easy access: We don’t have a waitlist for ECT, so most patients can schedule an appointment soon after completing their medical assessment and insurance verification. You receive treatment in our homelike outpatient facility without having to navigate a busy hospital.

What Is ECT?

ECT is a brain stimulation therapy. It sends electrical currents through your brain that trigger a short, mild seizure. The electrical stimulation changes the chemicals in your brain that affect mood and emotions. ECT can help relieve symptoms of severe depression, catatonia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder.

ECT requires a series of treatments to be effective. Most people have an initial series of 12 treatments, given three times each week for a month. Then, we gradually reduce the frequency of treatment to once every few months.

Is ECT Effective?

ECT is a highly effective treatment. It has been proven to help up to 80% of severely treatment-resistant patients, according to the American Psychiatric Association. They can find relief from symptoms and achieve a higher quality of life. Still, there is no guarantee that ECT will be effective. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of ECT with you before treatment.

Is ECT Safe?

Overall, ECT is a safe, well-tolerated treatment. However, like any medical procedure, it does carry risks. Some people experience headaches and muscle aches during the first few sessions. Short-term memory loss is an uncommon side effect of ECT; long-term memory loss is even rarer.

ECT is not recommended for people who:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have a pacemaker
  • Can’t have general anesthesia
  • Had a heart attack or stroke

What Can I Expect During ECT?

Your entire ECT session lasts about three hours, from the time you arrive at our facility to the time you go home. Before treatment, a nurse takes your vital signs (pulse, temperature and blood pressure). We also put an IV (needle) in your arm so that we can give general anesthesia once you’re in the treatment room.

During treatment:

  1. A psychiatrist, nurse and anesthesiologist are in the treatment room with you.
  2. We place sensors on your scalp and chest to monitor your brain and heart activity during treatment.
  3. The anesthesiologist gives you general anesthesia through the IV. You fall asleep within seconds and don’t feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
  4. The psychiatrist adjusts the electrical stimulation settings on the ECT device to a level that’s right for your needs.
  5. A nurse holds paddles to the side of your head and delivers a brief electrical impulse to your scalp, triggering a mild seizure.

The ECT session itself takes about 20 minutes. You wake up in our recovery room, where you can have coffee, juice and muffins. We monitor you for about an hour to make sure you can safely go home. You can contact our staff at any time if you have concerns about side effects or activity restrictions after ECT.