Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy

Springfield Hospital now offers ECT maintenance therapy at 25 Ridgewood Road, Springfield, VT.


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association to help treat symptoms of certain mental illnesses, primarily severe depression. Today’s modern approach to ECT treatment uses electric currents given in a controlled setting to achieve the most benefit with the fewest possible risks. By and large it is safe, reliable, painless, and effective.

Why Use ECT?

ECT can provide rapid, significant improvement for severe symptoms of several mental health conditions, including:

  • Severe or medication unresponsive depression
  • Mania
  • Catatonia
  • Agitation and aggression in people with dementia

When to Consider ECT

ECT is often considered as a treatment option when medications aren’t tolerated or other treatments have proven to be ineffective. ECT may be a viable alternative

  • During pregnancy, when medications can’t be taken because they might harm the developing fetus
  • In older adults who can’t tolerate drug side effects
  • In people who prefer ECT treatments over taking medications
  • In life threatening illness when an immediate response is needed

How to Access ECT

ECT treatment involves two steps: an initial evaluation and then a first treatment series, usually done in a hospital. Dartmouth, UVM, Concord Hospital and Albany Medical Center all offer this option. Once a patient starts to improve, ECT is usually continued on an outpatient basis, involving a hospital visit of a few hours. The total number and type of treatments you’ll need depends on the severity of your symptoms and how rapidly they improve. Springfield Hospital collaborates with other regional providers to offer these outpatient or maintenance ECT treatments in a more intimate venue conveniently closer to home.

What You Can Expect

At Springfield Hospital, ECT is performed as an outpatient procedure. The ECT procedure itself only takes about five to 10 minutes, with additional time for preparation and recovery.

You will have a brief physical exam to check your heart and lungs and a focused mental status exam to assess progress. An intravenous (IV) line is inserted into your arm or hand through which medications or fluids can be given and later small electrode pads temporarily placed on your head and chest to monitor the procedure safely. You will receive general anesthesia and fall asleep. While you’re asleep from the anesthetic and your muscles are relaxed, the doctor introduces a small electric current to your brain, producing a seizure that usually lasts less than 60 seconds. With the help of anesthesia, you remain relaxed and unaware of the seizure. An electroencephalogram (EEG) records the duration and intensity in your brain. The seizure activity usually stops by itself, but can be arrested if necessary. It is the activity of this carefully controlled seizure that seems to promote the growth of brain cells that helps with depression.

Within minutes, the effects of the anesthesia wear off and you are taken to a recovery area where you will be closely monitored for at least an hour. When you wake up, you may experience a period of confusion lasting from a few minutes to a few hours or more. There are doctors and nurses at hand to help as needed until people are ready to go home. We ask everyone to have someone come to the hospital with them to keep them company and see them home safely after their treatment.

Benefits of ECT Treatment

ECT often quickly resolves symptoms of major depression, including depressed mood, lack of interest, loss of appetite and weight disturbance, sleep disturbance, suicidal thoughts, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and loss of self -esteem. ECT can be used for other conditions when usual treatments are not sufficiently effective. It has been used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, psychosis from some forms of dementia and medication resistant epilepsy.

For More Information or to Schedule Treatment, please contact:

Theodore Miller, MD
Medical Director
The Windham Center for Psychiatric Care


Theodore Miller
Theodore Miller, MD
Medical Director
The Windham Center for Psychiatric Care
Bellows Falls, VT