Outpatient Services

Sentara Behavioral Health Services provides outpatient treatment services, including electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and psychiatric medication management services through Sentara Behavioral Health Specialists in Virginia Beach.

Electroconvulsive Therapy Treatments

In addition to its adult and senior inpatient units, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital offers electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments on an outpatient basis. ECT treatments at Sentara are safe and pain free. ECT can be very effective when other treatments have failed. ECT is used primarily to treat:

  • Severe depression that doesn't improve with medications or other treatments
  • Severe mania that occurs as part of bipolar disorder
  • Catatonia (lack of movement, fast or strange movements, lack of speech, and other symptoms) often associated with schizophrenia and some other psychiatric disorders. In some cases, catatonia is caused by a medical illness.
  • Agitation and aggression caused by dementia

How Does Electroconvulsive Therapy Work?

Electroconvulsive therapy is a procedure in which electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure that last from 20-90 seconds.  ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses, like depression. You will wake up within five to ten minutes of being treated. After ECT, some patients will continue to have maintenance ECT, while others will return to antidepressant medications. Most patients undergo 6 to 10 treatments.

Is ECT Painful?

The treatment is given in the hospital under anesthesia so that you do not feel pain.

Are There Side Effects with ECT?

The most common side effect is short-term memory loss, which resolves quickly.

ECT appointments at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital can be scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

If you think this is a service that would benefit you in your care, please talk to your doctor.