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The Power of ECT Therapy for OCD: A Promising Treatment Option

ECT therapy for OCD

The Power of ECT Therapy for OCD: A Promising Treatment Option

Introduction

ECT therapy for OCD is being widely used to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is one of the most common illnesses that affect the mental health of an individual. It diminishes the individual’s zeal to do any activity. Almost 1.2% of the adult population in the United States alone are suffering from OCD. This illness impacts the quality of life of adults and teenagers worldwide.

The worst thing about suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder is that a person suffering from OCD might also be diagnosed with other mental health issues. OCD can be potentially dangerous and even pose a risk to the lives of the people suffering from it and those around them.

The good news is that these mental health illnesses are curable with treatment, therapy, and medications. In this blog, we discuss more about obsessive-compulsive disorder and ECT Therapy for OCD.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric illness where the patient suffers from repetitive patterns of unreasonable fears. These fears give rise to certain obsessive patterns in the patient. 

The compulsive behavior of the patients becomes a cause of worry when they start feeling the need to do certain compulsive behaviors to ease their stress. This kind of behavior is a hindrance to the activities of the patient.

Statistics show that 1.8% of females worldwide have OCD. This means that women are 1.6 times more prone to experience OCD as compared to men. Out of these numbers, at least 1 in 200 kids experience symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder worldwide.

What are the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

When a patient is diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, they showcase symptoms of obsessions and compulsions. Let us understand what these two terminologies mean.

symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessions

Obsessions are repetitive thoughts that cause distress and anxiety to the patient. These thoughts are often unwanted. Obsessions are stronger when the patient is trying to concentrate on something else or is trying to do their daily chores.

These obsessions give rise to compulsive behavior that the patient practices as a ritual to get rid of those unwanted thoughts.

Obsessions can be understood better in the form of the following examples:

  • Fear of germs
  • Needing things to be in a proper order
  • Aggressive thoughts that include harming others
  • Doubts regarding your daily routine like whether the doors are locked

Compulsions

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that the patient does to get rid of their obsessions. The patient performs certain acts that are a part of compulsive behavior to get rid of the stress and anxiety that obsessions cause them. However, these acts give temporary relief and the anxiety comes back stronger next time.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a vicious cycle of obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions that never end. However, on the bright side, this psychiatric disorder can be treated with ECT therapy for OCD. In the next sections, we will talk more about Electroconvulsive Therapy.

Compulsions can be best explained with the following examples:

  • Washing hands until the skin of your hands becomes raw and cracked
  • Checking and re-checking the doors to confirm whether they are locked
  • Excessive counting or organizing to make everything look in a certain manner

What is ECT Therapy for OCD?

ECT is an abbreviation for the term Electroconvulsive Therapy. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) for OCD is extensively employed in addressing not only Obsessive-compulsive Disorder but also other mental health issues.

ECT therapy for OCD is a procedure performed under general anesthesia. In this procedure, the doctors pass small electric currents through the patient’s brain. This triggers a brief seizure when the electric currents are passed. These seizures are not dangerous. They help in the process of healing.

As the sessions for ECT therapy for OCD progress, the changes in the brain chemistry triggered by the electric currents reverse the symptoms of psychiatric disorders.

Back in the day, there was a certain level of stigma attached to ECT therapy for OCD. This was because the electric currents passed through the brain were quite strong. The high doses of electricity were also administered without general anesthesia. This resulted in memory loss, fractured bones, and other side effects that lasted lifelong.

Side Effects of ECT Therapy for OCD

Side Effects of ECT Therapy for OCD
Side Effects of ECT Therapy for OCD

Electroconvulsive Therapy or ECT is considered a safe form of treatment. However, like in any form of treatment, some patients might suffer from side effects. The following are some side effects that patients may suffer from ECT:

Confusion

Some patients may feel confused immediately after the treatment. They might have trouble comprehending their identity or understanding where they are. This state of confusion may last for a few minutes or several hours. However, in rare cases, the confusion may last for a longer duration.

Memory Loss

Some patients may suffer from retrograde amnesia after the treatment is administered. Retrograde amnesia is a condition where the patient cannot remember the events right before the treatment. In some cases, the patients may also forget the events corresponding to the previous weeks or years as well.

However, this condition improves after a couple of months the treatment is administered and the patient starts regaining their memory.

Physical Side Effects

Some patients may suffer from muscle pain, headache, nausea, and jaw pain after the treatment. This condition is treated with medications. The patients may see improvement in their pain in a couple of days.

Side Effects From Medical Complications

ECT is administered under general anesthesia. Some patients may develop medical complications arising out of anesthesia. 

During ECT therapy, the heart rate and the blood pressure of the patient rises. Therefore, it might have side effects and complications related to the heart. ECT is not advised in cases where the patient suffers from heart complications and diseases as it may increase the risk of a stroke.

Understanding ECT Therapy for OCD: Exploring Treatment Approaches, Duration, and Frequency

ECT therapy is strictly performed under the guidance of a medical professional. Firstly, the patient is given general anesthesia. The doctor then passes small doses of electric currents to the patient’s brain. This reverses the chemical composition of the brain and relieves the patient of the symptoms of psychiatric disorders.

ECT therapy is administered 2 to 3 times per week and each session lasts for 60 minutes. Doctors typically advise patients to take 10 to 12 sessions to completely get rid of their symptoms of psychiatric disorders and illnesses.

Can ECT Therapy for OCD be Used for Other Mental Health Illnesses?

Can ECT Therapy for OCD be Used for Other Mental Health Illnesses
Can ECT Therapy for OCD be Used for Other Mental Health Illnesses

ECT therapy for OCD is a preferred form of treatment by healthcare professionals worldwide. This type of treatment is beneficial in cases where the medicines administered are not working or in cases where medicines cannot be given to the patient.

ECT therapy for OCD is used to treat several other psychiatric illnesses such as:

Major Depressive Disorder

ECT therapy for OCD is useful in cases where the patient is experiencing major Depressive Disorder and is disconnected from reality (also called psychosis).

Resistant Depressive Disorder

In some cases, the patient is not responding well to the medications administered to treat depressive disorder. In such cases, ECT therapy is useful as it relieves the patient from the symptoms of depressive disorder. ECT therapy for OCD is also useful in cases where the patient is pregnant as medicines cannot be given to such patients.

Mania

ECT therapy for OCD is helpful in cases where the patient suffers from intense Mania. In such cases, the patient often indulges in aggressive and risky behavior in a state of hysteria.

Catatonia

Catatonia is a condition where the patient cannot move, speak, or move strangely. This condition is triggered mainly by schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses and disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the full form of ECT?

The full form of ECT is Electroconvulsive Therapy and it is used to treat several psychiatric illnesses.

How is ECT performed?

Electroconvulsive Therapy is performed under general anesthesia. The healthcare professionals then administer electric currents to the brain in light doses. These electric currents alter the chemical composition of the brain that treats the psychiatric disorders in the patient. 

Is ECT painful?

Since Electroconvulsive Therapy is performed under general anesthesia, the patient does not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.

Is ECT safe?

Yes, Electroconvulsive Therapy is safe as the electric current transmitted in the brain is in small doses under general anesthesia.

Does ECT cure OCD?

Yes, Electroconvulsive therapy is successful in treating OCD and many other psychiatric disorders.

Conclusion

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is where the patient is stuck in a vicious cycle of obsessive thoughts and compulsions arising out of those thoughts. OCD can hamper the daily chores and activities of the patient. In extreme cases, OCD can be dangerous. In such cases, Electroconvulsive Therapy or ECT therapy for OCD is beneficial to the patient.

This form of treatment is preferred worldwide and poses a minimum risk, pain, or discomfort to the patient. It is a quick way to relieve the patient from the symptoms of psychiatric illnesses and disorders.

Like any form of treatment, ECT has its own set of pros and cons. Therefore, an individual must discuss it with their healthcare professional and their family before taking ECT therapy.

However, ECT is not advised in cases where the patient has a history of heart problems as the increase in heart rate and blood pressure during the treatment may pose a risk of a heart attack or a stroke.

Avisa Recovery is dedicated to educating people about OCD and providing accurate information on its nature, causes, and treatment options. Recognizing the complexity of OCD manifestations, the platform aims to help users understand the various facets of the condition. Avisa Recovery offers compassionate support for individuals, families, and caregivers, emphasizing that no one is alone in their journey with OCD.

The platform promotes empowerment through evidence-based treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention. Whether seeking information for oneself or a loved one, Avisa Recovery encourages users to explore articles, resources, and community discussions to take the first step toward understanding and overcoming OCD. The platform is committed to guiding individuals on their journey to a brighter future, free from the grip of OCD.

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