Side effects of electric shock treatment

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Electric shock treatment or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been used in treating individuals who are suffering from severe depression that involves weight change, insomnia as well as feeling of hopelessness or suicidal thoughts. The therapy is also used in treating mania or schizophrenia that does not respond to medications. Electric shock treatment can cause certain side effects and those who are planning to undergo the therapy should be well aware of the risks involved.


Electric shock treatment was considered as a dangerous procedure in the past. In the past during the first few decades the therapy was used, it has caused death. Nevertheless, safer procedures and improved techniques have reduced the mortality rate. At the present, the risk of death from electric shock treatment is not different than the risk of death caused by taking antidepressants.

It is important to note that death is caused by the procedure itself or by the side effects of anesthesia. The best way to reduce the risk factor is to properly evaluate the overall health of the individual before electric shock treatment is considered.

Electric shock treatment
The immediate side effects affecting the central nervous system after electric shock treatment includes headache, confusion and temporary memory loss.

Acute confused state

The immediate side effects affecting the central nervous system after electric shock treatment includes headache, confusion and temporary memory loss. This is considered as an acute confused state that can last for minutes up to several hours. The length depends on the method on how the electric shock treatment was delivered, timing, age of the individual as well as the number of treatments carried out.


Electric shock treatment can trigger a mild seizure. The seizure typically starts off mild but there is possibility that it can become severe and even a long-term seizure disorder in rare cases.

The seizure is triggered by the electric stimulus transmitted to the brain as part of the electric shock treatment. Several systemic changes can occur right after the therapy is carried out. Take note that these changes include bradycardia and hypotension. These are followed by the response of the nervous system that results to an increase in the blood pressure. You can learn how to properly manage a seizure by enrolling in a first aid class today.

Memory loss

Many individuals who received electric shock treatment have experienced memory loss either short term or long term. It is important to note that this memory loss can last even after the treatments have ended. The memory loss is usually connected to the type of therapy used, placement of the electrodes and if the electric current is continuous or transmitted in pulses.

Always bear in mind that electric shock treatment can affect both sides of the brain and the current that is continuous has a higher likelihood to cause memory loss.

Learning problems

The therapy is also known to cause adverse effects in the capability to learn and retain new knowledge. Weeks after the therapy has ended, the learning ability of the individual usually returns to normal.

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