Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a Treatment for Electroconvulsive Therapy Phobia: Case Report and Review of Literature

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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can raise feelings of fear and anxiety in our patients. No documented cases of phobia regarding ECT or its treatment were found in the literature.


We present a patient who developed anxiety regarding ECT that was severe enough to be classified as a phobia. She was successfully treated with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for her phobia and was subsequently able to tolerate ECT. We conducted a literature review of ECT phobia, fear, and anxiety using MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and EMBASE.


We outlined how CBT, in our specific case, was helpful in treating extreme and unrealistic fears concerning ECT. We could not find a case of phobia related to ECT in the literature; however, both qualitative and quantitative studies illustrate that ECT causes anxiety and fear.


Although cases of ECT phobia are rare, feelings of fear and anxiety surrounding ECT are common. The experience of ECT is individualized for each patient, and CBT can be a successful treatment in those who have anxiety related to ECT.

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