Mental Health Nursing

open access articles on mental health nursing

Nursing Care in ECT


Indications for ECT

ECT is the most acutely effective treatment available for affective disorders and is more effective than antidepressant drugs.  (Kavanagh &  McLoughlin, 2009)

ECT may be considered as a primary treatment (or first-line treatment) for persons exhibiting syndromes such as: severe major depression, acute mania, mood disorders with psychotic features, and catatonia. ( Hogan MF & Paterson DA, 2008)

  1. Severe depression
  2. Acute mania
  3. Mood disorders with psychotic featues
  4. Intolerance to side effects of medication or other treatments
  5. Deterioration in condition, or appearance of suicidality or pronounced lethargy.
  6. Acute catatonia


Nursing Care in ECT

Electroconvulsive therapy is treated like a minor surgical procedure that requires preoperative preparation and postoperative care. (Arkan B, Ustün B, 2008). There are four components of nursing care in ECT

Providing Educational and emotional support

Pre-treatment Nursing care

Nursing Care during ECT Procedure

Post-ECT Care

Equipment for ECT



Psychiatric nursing care for the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) patient has evolved from a traditional supportive and adjunctive practice to the current practice of independent and collaborative nursing actions. The nurse's multifaceted role in ECT is enacted by providing education and support, performing pretreatment assessments, monitoring the procedure, and observing and interpreting posttreatment patient responses. (Burns & Stuart GW, 1991)

Although in use for 70 years, ECT continues to attract controversy and there is considerable stigma associated with its use that often overshadows the empirical evidence for its effectiveness. One way to overcome this is for health professionals to be educated about contemporary ECT practice. Patients need to make informed decisions when consenting to ECT and this process can be influenced by preconceived ideas and scientific fact. (Kavanagh & McLoughlin, 2009).


  1. Kavanagh A, McLoughlin DM. Electroconvulsive therapy and nursing care. Br J Nurs. 2009;18(22):1370-7.

  2. Hogan MF, Paterson DA. Electroconvulsive Therapy Review Guidelines. office of the Mental Health, New York State.

  3. Arkan B, Ustün B.Examination of the effect of education about electroconvulsive therapy on nursing practice and patient satisfaction. J ECT. 2008 ;24(4):254-9.

  4. Stuart GW. Laraia MT. Principles and practice of psychiatric nursing. 1st edn. Noida. Mosby publishers.2001

  5. Townsend MC. Psychiatric mental health nursing. 3rd edn. Philadelphia. FH Davis publishers

  6. Kapoor B. Text book of psychiatric nursing, vol-II. 1st edn.Delhi.Kumar publishing house.2006.

  7. Munday J, Dean C, Little J. Effectiveness of a training program for ECT nurses . Journal of psychosocial nursing and mental health services, 2003:41; 20-26.

  8. C. H. Kellner, D. M. Popeo, and A. S. Aloysi. Electroconvulsive Therapy for Catatonia Am J Psychiatry, September 1, 2010; 167(9): 1127 - 1128. 

  9. Burns CM, Stuart GW. Nursing care in electroconvulsive therapy. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1991;14(4):971-88.

This page was last updated on: 19/12/2020