Question: Are there any medical or neurological conditions that may preclude the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?
Answer: Prior to ECT the patient is seen by both the psychiatrist and an anesthesiologist. There's two reasons for this medical workup.
The first is that they want to be certain that the patient doesn't have a treatable cause for their depression. A medically treatable cause for depression include things such as hyperthyroidism or sometimes medication that the patient's taking for other conditions.
The second reason they're being seen is to make certain that they can tolerate the treatment. During the treatment the patient's blood pressure and pulse will go up. The anesthesiologist wants to make sure that he can comfortably control their blood pressure and heart rate and keep it in the normal range during the treatment. The psychiatrist is also looking at the patient neurologically to make sure that they haven't had a stroke or an increase in the pressure inside their head that could also account for their depression but make it more difficult to administer ECT.
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