Spouse Asks about ECT
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Q:  Spouse Asks about ECT

My husband started having load ringing/buzzing and severe headaches in Sept.  The doctors have not found any medical reason for this.  He has been diagnosed with bipolar and made a desperation suicide attempt last Tuesday.  He is in a psychiatric hospital now. ECT is being considered.  He also has a pacemaker and has post combat stress. Please give me some feedback on this form of treatment.
Thank you.

Dear Chris --
If I understand correctly, you are wondering about the use of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) for the treatment of bipolar disorder.

ECT is a well recognized form of treatment for bipolar disorder.  As you probably know, is generally used to treat depression, but it can also treat manic episodes.

Generally, ECT is considered one symptoms are severe; and when they have not responded to at least one or two medication approaches; when a very rapid response is necessary; and/or when other medical conditions and their attendant medications make the whole picture quite complicated (under those circumstances, adding another medication can sometimes be judged to be "one too many"). In her husband's case, the presence of the pacemaker might be one of those medical conditions that is being factored in.

I hope things go smoothly.

Dr. Phelps

Published January, 2009


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