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Ketamine vs. ECT

Ketamine Treatments

Ketamine vs ECT: Which Is Best For Resistant Depression

One of the main disorders being depression that is unresponsive to psychotherapy and antidepressant medications, also known as "Treatment Resistant Depression".

When many physicians or patients hear about or experience treatment-resistant depression (TRD), they think about resorting to Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).

But what more and more patients and clinicians are coming to discover is that Ketamine infusions are showing many promising results as the go-to therapy to treatment-resistant depression.

Following weeks of shock therapy, patients are often then placed on one to several specific antidepressant medications while transitioning from their inpatient therapy to more of an outpatient management style of oversight.

What Should I Know About

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Shock Therapy

ECT, also known as “shock therapy,” was introduced by Italian neurologists Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini as a treatment for psychosis in 1938.

Brief Electrical Pulses

ECT consists of a patient receiving brief electrical pulses or shocks over the scalp while thankfully being completely under anesthesia, usually every other day for a week or two

Changes in Brain Chemistry

Electrodes are attached to a patient's head, and an electric current is passed between them, causing changes in brain chemistry and activity.

Treatment for Severe Psychiatric Disorders

For decades, ECT has been a dramatic, last-resort treatment for severe psychiatric disorders.
What are ECT for Treatment-Resistant Depression


Memory Loss

ECT tends to cause memory loss from the time around the procedure. 

Physical Pain

ECT can produce physical pain during the treatment. Headaches are common. 

Cognitive Deficits

ECT tends to create some cognitive deficits during treatment. These cognitive deficits have been shown to go away between 1-6 months after treatment ends.

Relapse Into Depression

Relapse back into depression often occurs, thus necessitating the patient having to return back to ECT inpatient treatment.

Financial Burden

This type of treatment can be extremely costly when adding up the inpatient stay, anesthesia, and psychiatrist fees.


How Does Ketamine Compare To ECT?

Unlike the slower subjective effects of ECT, Ketamine appears to have a much more rapid and robust anti-depressant effect (aside from the fact that patients are actually conscious during the treatment as opposed to ECT).

  • Is Ketamine is cost-effective when compared to ECT?

    Ketamine treatment is also cheaper in comparison to ECT in regard to receiving the actual treatment and not having to take off work for the periods of time required for ECT therapy.

    Even though patients may still need to continue their anti-depressant medication for some time following Ketamine treatment (similar to ECT), Ketamine still appears to be the front runner in regard to the effectiveness of treating depression and the lack of disruption to the patient's life to receive the treatment itself.

  • What is the research on ketamine for depression?

    There is also current research supporting the use of ketamine for rapid recovery from depressive symptoms and shows that Ketamine can provide a less invasive option for depressed patients, especially when a rapid response is desired.

    Many researchers are looking to back this effort as well by setting up new trials testing Ketamine's efficacy in comparison to the burdensome treatment process of ECT. 

  • Whom Is Ketamine Treatment Best Used For?

    Currently, Ketamine infusions are showing benefits and promise for treating severe depression, PTSD, and anxiety.

    With proper monitoring, ketamine may eventually be used as a less burdensome, potentially better tolerated, and less expensive alternative to ECT in severely depressed and/or treatment-resistant patients.

  • What treatment is best for you, Ketamine, or ECT?

    If you or someone you know has experienced ECT therapy with no improvement or are looking to try other effective depression treatment avenues prior to resorting to ECT therapy, click below and learn more about Ketamine infusions to improve or treat your depressive symptoms.

    Visit our FAQ section to learn more about ketamine infusions and how these can help mitigate your condition.


What treatment is best for you?

Contact us for further information and to see which option will be best for your treatment.

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