ECT treatment locations

ECT is one of many options for the treatment of mental illness. It can be given at these locations:

Abbott Northwestern Hospital
Minneapolis, Minn.

Mercy Hospital - Unity Campus
Fridley, Minn.

New Ulm Medical Center
New Ulm, Minn.

United Hospital
St. Paul, Minn.

ECT: Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (known as ECT) is a treatment to help the brain regulate mood. The patient is given a general anesthesia to sleep during the treatment. The psychiatrist gives a brief electrical stimulation to the brain.

ECT has been shown to help more than 70 percent of patients who use it as part of their therapy.

ECT may be right for you if medicine or psychotherapy does not work, if they are too slow to relieve your symptoms, or if you previously had successful response to ECT treatments.

Treatments may be given if you are staying in the hospital (inpatient) or coming from home (outpatient).

ECT is given under general anesthesia that will make you sleepy. You will be unaware during the procedure.
The number of treatments varies for each patient. In general, a patient may receive two to three treatments a week for a total of three to 12 treatments.

If you need more treatments after the initial cycle, you and your psychiatrist will talk about a schedule.

ECT may be helpful for treating the following:

  • major depression
  • bipolar affective disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • neuroleptic malignant syndrome
  • delirium
  • You will need to have a health history and physical exam within 30 days of your scheduled treatment. The exam will determine if you are healthy enough to have ECT treatment and if you need lab work or more tests.
  • Tell your doctor all of your medical conditions.
  • Tell your doctor the medicines you take. Include all prescription, over-the-counter, herbal and natural medicines.

Food and liquid directions before surgery

The following are based on your arrival time to the hospital, not your scheduled surgery time.

Smoking, vaping or chewing tobacco: 24 hours

  •  Do not smoke, vape, use chewing tobacco or use any other tobacco products up to 4 hours before your scheduled arrival time. This will reduce the risk of complications (problems).
  • If you do use tobacco products within 8 hours of your scheduled arrival time, your surgery may be delayed or canceled.  

Alcohol: 24 hours

  • Do not drink alcohol up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival time. 

Solid food: 8 hours  

  • You may eat your regular foods up to 8 hours before your scheduled arrival time. 

Solid food: 6 hours  

You may eat a light meal up to 6 hours before your scheduled arrival time. A light meal is one of these: 

  • 2 pieces of toast with a light topping
  • 1 granola or protein bar 
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) oatmeal or other hot cereal 

and one of these: 

  • 16 ounces of milk, coffee (with or without cream) 
  • juice (with or without pulp) 
  • or a sports drink

Clear liquids: 2 hours 

Drink clear liquids up to 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. Clear liquids are only these: 

  • water 
  • fruit juice without pulp 
  • sports drinks 
  • soda 
  • black coffee without cream or creamer 
  • tea without cream or creamer

Drink 12 to 20 ounces of electrolyte sports drink (Gatorade® or Powerade®) 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. 

Hard candy and gum: 2 hours

  • You may have hard candy (such as a lemon drop or throat lozenge) or chew gum up to 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time.
  • You may use gums and lozenges for tobacco cravings up to 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time.


Take your medicines as directed with a small sip of water.

How to Prepare for ECT Treatment

  • Take your blood pressure medicines and medicines for acid reflux unless your doctor gives you other directions.
  • Avoid using make-up.
  • You will be asked to use the bathroom before your treatment.

A psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist and a registered nurse will be in the room with you during each treatment.

  • If you are coming to the hospital for treatment, you may be asked to wear a hospital gown.
  • Appropriate consent will be given.
  • You will lie down.

The nurse will start an intravenous (IV) line in your hand or arm for the anesthesia, put a blood pressure cuff on your arm to monitor your blood pressure, and attach a pulse oximeter on your finger to monitor your oxygen levels.

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) monitor patches will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rate.
  • The psychiatrist places the ECT leads to your scalp.
  • The anesthesiologist will give you a general anesthesia through the IV. (Before the anesthesia, you may have an oxygen mask around your mouth and nose.)
  • After you are asleep, the psychiatrist will give you a brief electrical stimulation through the leads on your scalp. This will cause a seizure in your brain.
  • our body remains still due to the effects of the muscle relaxer.
  • The nurse will monitor you in the recovery area until you wake up.
  • The ECT leads, IV, blood pressure cuff, oximeter clip, oxygen mask and EKG patches will be removed before you either return to your hospital room (inpatient) or leave for home (outpatient).

If you are an inpatient (staying in the hospital), you will return to your room.

If you are an outpatient (returning home), you will need to have someone drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours. For 24 hours:

  • Do not drive or use any machinery.
  • Do not make important decisions.
  • Do not drink alcohol.

Follow all directions you receive from your psychiatrist or nurse.

Some common side effects after an ECT treatment include:

  • headaches
  • jaw tightness
  • muscle soreness
  • nausea (upset stomach)
  • problems with distraction and concentration
  • short-term memory loss

 Other less common side effects include:

  • small risk of injury to the soft tissue in the mouth or to the teeth (such as a nick on the lip or tongue or a chipped or broken tooth)
  • severe memory loss (rare). If this happens, the psychiatrist will talk with you about stopping treatment.

If you have any side effects (even those not listed above), please tell your psychiatrist or nurse. Most side effects can be avoided or improved.

Inpatient and outpatient

ECT treatments may be given if you are staying in the hospital (inpatient) or coming from home (outpatient).