For over 29 years Montevista Hospital has been providing safe and effective inpatient and outpatient Electroconvulsive Therapy treatment (ECT) to adults and seniors. Despite recent advancements in treatment, medication-resistant depression continues to impair the lives of thousands each year.

This is where ECT comes in, or Electroconvulsive therapy. Sometimes referred to negatively as “shock treatment” in the past, ECT has nonetheless proved effective over the decades. The history of ECT has been an interesting one, and has moved from acceptance, to negative connotations to now where science has proven it to be an extremely effective in the battle against depression, manic disorders and other mental health issues that have proven stubborn against other courses of treatments and therapies.

Electroconvulsive therapy was first discovered and brought into being around the year 1937 to 1938, where it was found extremely effective at helping to cure a host of psychiatric illnesses, as well as mental health issues. The first few decades were tough on ECT, to say the least, and it eventually fell out of favor in the medical community during the 1960’s. This was the beginning of the psychiatric medication era, which is a large reason why many at the time considered ECT to be “outdated” or archaic.

However, there was no denying the results of ECT when it came down to it. As the 1970’s came to pass, ECT fell into favor again as newer methods of electroconvulsive therapy were delivered and administered in a more comfortable way for various mental health patients. Improved safety measures and comfort allowed it to gain more widespread appeal, which only further strengthened its support as an effective treatment in the right circumstances.

ECT works by providing briefly charged electrical pulses to the scalp in intervals, which helps excite the cells of the brain. This fires them together, which then produces a seizure of sorts. This is done while the patient is under anesthetic, so there is never a chance of feeling any pain during the entire process. While scientists and doctors do not fully understand yet exactly how or why ECT provides results, there are still quite a few theories. One of the more popular theories that most seem to agree on is that ECT provides an alteration in the neurotransmitters in the brain during the seizures, or adjusts the overall stress hormone regulation in the brain. Ultimately these regulations affect one’s mood, energy levels and sleeping patterns.

Treatment will take place over the course of weeks or months, and is generally administered several times a week to begin with. As the treatment progresses and a professional is able to evaluate the progress in the patient, determinations will be made on whether to reduce the number of treatments and go from there.

The entire process lasts from 10 to 20 minutes depending upon each individual’s plan and treatment requirements. The electrical impulses on the scalp are triggered for anywhere from 25 to 45 seconds, and the patient is completely anesthetized, feeling nothing. Once the therapy is complete, the patient is monitored as they are brought out of anesthesia. Within a half hour, the patient is moved to the recovery room where one’s vital signs will be monitored and checked until there is satisfaction that they have successfully moved out of being anesthetized.

Ultimately, Electroconvulsive Therapy is a very useful and successful treatment that has been proven effective over the decades. There used to be certain stigmas associated with this type of treatment, but science and many changes has made this an extremely safe, reliable and useful form of therapy. However, this is not just a simple therapy that we choose to employ; it is generally administered after other courses of treatments have failed, and only after having two separate psychologists recommend this course of action.


Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) can be an effective treatment for patients that are severely depressed, suicidal, or have bipolar disorder with depression or mania. Montevista Hospital offers ECT for patients who are:

  • Unsuccessful to other forms of treatment
  • Pose an immediate danger to themselves and others
  • Not good candidates for antidepressants or mood stabilizer medication

ECT is performed under general anesthesia by an anesthesiologist and a psychiatrist. Each patient receives a series of 8-12 treatments. Treatments typically occur three times per week and then taper to monthly based on the individual needs of the patient.

The decision to use ECT as a treatment option is one that typically comes after much discussion and exploration of other therapies. Two psychiatrists must render separate opinions that the patient would benefit from the treatment.

Advantages of ECT

  • Offers alternative solution for those individuals who have been unresponsive to other forms of treatment and who are not good candidates for antidepressants or mood stabilizer medication.
  • Pre-ECT education for the patients and their families conducted by a registered nurse.
  • Coordination of all pre-ECT requirements including required medical appointments and insurance authorization.
  • Completion of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) by the patient before, during, and after the ECT series to monitor progress.
  • Communication with the outpatient doctor of progress in treatment.
  • Follow up calls from a registered nurse to the patient after ECT treatments.

Family Participation

Family participation is important, especially to those seeking outpatient ECT treatments. Support and encouragement from family members is key to successfully participating in this treatment regimen.

Treatment Staff

  • Board certified psychiatrists with specialized ECT training
  • Board certified anesthesiologists
  • Experienced psychiatric nursing staff with advances ECT training

Montevista Hospital is proud to serve the men and women of the Las Vegas region in their battle against various forms of mental health and behavioral health issues. We provide a structured, safe and therapeutic environment for adults, seniors, adolescents and children; our highly-trained medical staff and professional staff take an approach focused on providing a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for both patients and their families. If you or a loved one are interested in speaking with one of our staff members about a potential mental or behavioral health issue, please contact us anytime at 702-251-1371, as we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.