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Area hospital offers seizure-producing therapy to help people suffering from depression

• Updated Aug 24, 2017 at 5:22 PM

SANDUSKY — Anupam Jha, MD, Psychiatry, Firelands Physician Group, has successfully earned certification in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) from Duke University, under the direction of Richard Weiner, MD, PhD, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“ECT is a procedure that safely sends electrical currents into the brain which produce a seizure while the patient is unconscious via general anesthesia,” a press release said. “The seizure that ensues is believed to lead to therapeutic effects of ECT and has a response rate of 75 to 90 percent in the most severe medication-resistant cases of depressive states.”

While ECT is used to treat a variety of mental illnesses, including depressive episodes of schizoaffective disorder, severe mania and catatonia (lack of movement and speech), it is most commonly used to treat severe depression that does not respond to other forms of treatment. ECT for depression often requires an average of eight to 12 treatments, two to three times per week, for optimal results. And there is no pain involved, as patients are under general anesthesia.

Contrary to popular belief, ECT is safe and effective, the hospital said.

“It’s safer than childbirth,” said Dr. Jha. “When ECT is available and can be done in a hospital setting with nearby emergency treatment if needed; it is incredibly safe. ECT is successful when patients can carry on with their normal lives without depressive symptoms that did not respond to other forms of treatment.”

Patients who are ideal candidates for the ECT procedure at Firelands Regional Medical Center can expect a short, relatively simple hospital stay. The entire procedure, including recovery time, lasts approximately two to three hours. Many patients are able to function normally within one to two days.

“Patients are given both general anesthesia and a muscle relaxant, which reduces risk of injury during the seizure,” said Dr. Jha. “The actual procedure only lasts five to 10 minutes, after which the patient begins the recovery process, which can last 30 to 45 minutes.”

To earn certification, Dr. Jha performed as many as 45 ECT procedures per week at Duke University. He chose to work with Dr. Weiner because of his heavy involvement in the development of newer, safer and more effective types of ECT. Dr. Weiner directs the Duke ECT Program, and has authored over 150 publications on the ECT procedure.

For more information about Dr. Jha and the ECT procedure, call 419-557-6787.

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