Boulder Community Health is proud to provide Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), which is a safe and highly effective treatment for severe psychiatric disorders.

ECT is most commonly used to treat severe depression and is often the safest, fastest and most effective therapy available for that illness. ECT is also sometimes used to treat patients with manic illness or schizophrenia. This treatment is available as an inpatient or outpatient basis.

Studies indicate that 80 to 90 percent of depressed individuals who receive ECT treatment respond favorably, making ECT the most effective treatment for all forms of depression. ECT is believed to correct biochemical abnormalities that underlie severe depressive illness. The techniques for administering ECT have improved considerably over the past 25 years.

Before ECT begins, a patient’s medical condition is carefully assessed with a complete medical history, physical examination and laboratory tests. The number of treatment sessions needed to successfully treat severe depression ranges from four to 20, with treatments usually given three times per week.

ECT is performed under general anesthesia, meaning patients are in a sleep-like state and unaware the procedure is taking place. During the procedure, electrical currents are quickly passed through the brain to induce a brief seizure. This causes changes in the brain’s chemistry, which has beneficial mood effects.

Breaking the ECT Myths

Unfortunately, because of the way it has been portrayed in movies and TV shows, some people have the wrong impression of ECT. As a result, the therapy isn’t helping as many people as it could. Such misconceptions are based on early ECT treatment, which began more than 80 years ago. In the early days, when it was known as “electroshock therapy,” treatment could be very painful and cause serious side effects. Today, ECT is much safer. It’s now delivered in a controlled setting, with patients surrounded by a team of specialized psychiatrists, anesthesiologists and registered nurses.

Why Choose BCH for ECT?

At BCH, ECT services are provided by the Guerra Fisher Institute and offer:

  • The most experienced practitioners in the Mountain States region: Collectively, our psychiatrists have nearly five decades of ECT experience and have performed more than 60,000 treatments.
  • Seasoned ECT nurses: Our team of registered nurses have subspecialty training in ECT and an average of over 10 years of experience.
  • A commitment to collaborating with referring clinicians: Our psychiatrists work closely and constantly communicate with patients’ referring clinicians, striving for seamless integration of care.
  • A leading health care system: Located on the Foothills Medical Campus, our program offers access to the full resources of Foothills Hospital. And, it’s the only program in Boulder County operated by a not-for-profit health system.

ECT is offered at BCH by the Guerra Fisher Institute & Boulder ECT. If you would like to learn more about this treatment or to make an appointment, please call 303-415-8611.