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OCD & ECT (electro-convulsive therapy): Not a first-line treatment


ECT is not considered to be a first-line treatment for OCD.

If your only diagnosis is OCD and you don’t have any other complicating factors, be cautious when considering electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) for treating your OCD.  ECT can be a very helpful intervention for many types of conditions (e.g., severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia), but it is not considered to be a first-line treatment for OCD.  Unfortunately, I have encountered several individuals recently who have undergone ECT without first receiving a good trial of exposure and response prevention (ERP).  Research indicates that medication and intensive ERP should be attempted prior to undergoing ECT, unless there is a good reason why these interventions are counter-indicated.

If you have OCD and you are considering ECT, consult with a psychiatrist who specializes in treating OCD.  He or she can advise you about your best course of action.

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