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Electric Shock Therapy For Ptsd

Discussion in 'Therapy' started by HorseChick, Sep 21, 2012.

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  1. HorseChick

    HorseChick Member

    Does anyone have any knowledge of using Electric Shock Therapy on PTSD sufferers? Does it help PTSD symptoms other than Depression? Does anyone know anything about any studies being done? Any comments are appreciated.
    therapybankrupt, gizmo and Britt.f7 like this.
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  3. Lucycat

    Lucycat "Wisdom begins in wonder." ~ Socrates ~
    Premium Member


    No! I thought electric shock therapy ( ECT) was a thing of the past. I would want to know a lot more before I agreed to it. However - Rory, my husband and a psychiatric nurse before he retired says it could be effective, especially for depression!
    gizmo, Britt.f7 and Anna like this.
  4. Nadia

    Nadia Wish I could say all the things that I should say

    I always heard it was a very bad idea... :eek:
    gizmo and Britt.f7 like this.
  5. HorseChick

    HorseChick Member

    My girlfriends, husband has gone through around 20 rounds of ECT and he probably would be dead without it. It is not at all like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." You are asleep through it, you have very low doses of electricity, and you don't end up with broken bones. My friends husband did have a little short term Memory loss but it was heaven sent for him. No meds worked and he tried Suicide several times. Now he wants to be alive.
  6. Shellbell

    Shellbell I'm a VIP

    I know someone who had a series of ECT's for severe depression. She used to go to a playgroup I attended. She'd had many years of other treatments before that. She didn't know who I was after that. It can cause memory loss.
    gizmo and Britt.f7 like this.
  7. LC23

    LC23 Active Member

    Seems to me like something for when everything else has failed. I am very opposed to antidepressants (for myself; for others they might be fine and that's up to them) but I think I might try those before I tried electroshock therapy.
    gizmo and Britt.f7 like this.
  8. Loveneverfails

    Loveneverfails We can crawl out of hell, one inch at a time.

    My mother had many sessions done. There was less of her every time. She says it worked, yet there is no marked improvement in her moods according to her psychiatrists. She no longer remembers anything about my early childhood, my first steps, my first words, nearly every milestone and I'm not the only one of her children whose lives she's entirely lost pieces of. It is one of the most painful things I've witnessed. What little relationship she had with each of us was ripped away. It may work for some people, I'm not a psychiatrist so I wouldn't know. But in my experience, it was unnecessary and barbaric. These people kept giving her treatments when the previous had no effect. I have a lot of anger over it. Maybe it's a last resort treatment, but even then I would in my personal experience, caution people against it.
  9. Shellbell

    Shellbell I'm a VIP

    I think EST is normally used for major depressive disorders. So if this is accompanying PTSD, then maybe EST could be helpful. But only if all other treatments for depression have been tried. Some severe depressive disorders are treatment and medication resistant.

    But I would definitely only consider EST as a last resort.
    gizmo and Britt.f7 like this.
  10. AngelaMarie

    AngelaMarie One moment at a time is the best I can do!
    Premium Member

    I did it! It was scary and didn't help me. I can't judge what it may do with others, but mine was over 6 years ago and I still have bad dreams about it and am still terrified of hospitals.
    Tessa, gizmo, Britt.f7 and 3 others like this.
  11. Anna

    Anna Guest

    ECT belongs locked in the closet along with frontal lobotomies, thumb screws and other methods of torture....
    Tessa, Lucycat, gizmo and 3 others like this.
  12. Hashi

    Hashi I'm a VIP

    I had ECT for severe depression. It wasn't like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but emotionally it felt invasive and it reinforced how powerless I felt at the time, with my treatment so completely in other people's hands. It didn't help me at all, but it doesn't seem to have had any lasting negative effects either - other than struggling to come to terms with the fact that at the time I felt I didn't have any other options and now I see things differently.

    I'm only speaking for myself, because I know everyone's different and is on their own journey. For me, the CBT/anti-depressant/ECT approaches that I tried for years were the wrong path. I didn't know it at the time, but what was important was to address the deeper meaning the trauma held for me and to find a new meaning for myself now. I understand now that for me it's more about taking back power, and having ECT was the opposite of that.

    I still think that talk therapy alone isn't enough for me. In the past, I interpreted that to mean that things like anti-depressants and ECT were necessary. For some people, they might be the right thing, I couldn't know. But for me, it was a somatic therapy that didn't centre on exposure methods (craniosacral therapy) that was the missing link to processing things that I couldn't reach with psychotherapy alone.

    I agreed to ECT at the time based on the knowledge I had then. If I'd had the understanding about myself that I have now, I wouldn't have done it.
    gizmo, Springer80, Britt.f7 and 3 others like this.
  13. HorseChick

    HorseChick Member

    I had some experience with Somatic Experiencing while I was hospitalized. When I spoke about my DH's PTSD and some other traumas of my own, I felt like someone was choking me. I learned that it is a reaction I get when I have to talk to my DH about anything that could set him off or anything that I am scared to talk about. Very Interesting.
    gizmo, Britt.f7 and Hashi like this.
  14. HorseChick

    HorseChick Member

    I'm sorry that you went through such a rough time with ECT. I can see that it would be a last resort and only then, if you are very comfortable with it and very informed of the possible side-effects and think they're worth the risk.

    My friends husband had tried suicide several times and meds didn't help. He knew about the memory loss beforehand. My friend and her husband decided together that he couldn't go on the way he was. They just wanted him to stop trying to die. I think they were at the point where it was worth the risk. It did help. I see him smile now.
    gizmo, Britt.f7 and Hashi like this.
  15. Darbi Jacob

    Darbi Jacob New Member

    I am looking into ECT for the same reasons, PTSD 5 years now as sexual assault victim and multiple hospitalizations. I thought after the lengthy criminal trial, which went my way, would close some of those doors. I don't know how to function in the world anymore. Completely Agoraphobic and lonely though many have tried to pursue my love...can't shake the fear despite behavioral therapy, great sense of humor, meds and now doing EMDR. I feel it's time to explore ECT. I was always an attractive, highly motivated woman that many described as fearless. Now, I have a great mask but a very sad person.
    gizmo and Britt.f7 like this.
  16. LC23

    LC23 Active Member

    I would exhaust everything and I mean everything else before I did electro-shock anything. Hypnosis, CBT, RRT, EMDR, cannabis, meditation, tai chi, yoga, maybe even Scientology. OK, maybe not Scientology. I dunno. It's a toss up. I'd maybe do it if I was going to be suicidal without it. I'm just skeptical that they have the science that well worked out to have a reasonable chance of positive change.

    Just a couple specific thoughts.

    1) Do you have any pets? Animals are less likely to set off your triggers and can provide some much needed conscious contact with another entity. Especially a dog, who can also be an extra layer of security and alertness for you, with unparalleled loyalty of a kind that's harder to come by in a human. Or if there's some way you can work hands-on with animals - dogs, cats, birds, horses even if you're comfortable with that, at a no-kill shelter or something of that nature.

    2) Have you ever studied a martial art? It can be difficult to overcome the initial intimidation, but it can be a great way to reclaim some of your personal power, if you find a quality instructor who knows how to teach to trauma survivors, especially women. I found that to be very helpful for me. There's a book you can find called Her Wits About Her. It has stories of many women who overcame and/or partially healed from awful situations with martial arts skills plus intelligence. Some of it will be very trigger-heavy, so read with caution and skip the stories that seem like they will be too intense, until you can better process them. But it points a way towards regaining some of that confidence, and banishing some of the fear.

    Hope that the people here can be of help, there's a lot of good ideas and good people here, don't give up.
    gizmo, Britt.f7 and maddog like this.
  17. LC23

    LC23 Active Member

    I know the martial arts suggestion may seem like a lot - but it can really give you a lot of focus for mind body and spirit, plus it's intense exercise, which is its own distraction and anti depressant. Hard to think about your problems when you're sparring, or working on a form, or doing the intense calisthenics that training in a martial art demands, even if you're out of shape. Plus, a good dojo and sensei is like another family.
    gizmo, Britt.f7, Hashi and 1 other person like this.
  18. itsKismet

    itsKismet I'm a VIP
    Premium Member


    I completely agree with LC. Don't do ECT unless you've tried just about EVERYTHING else. You've tried relatively few therapies so far and it seems like you're willing to jump into something extreme because what youve tried so far hasn't "fixed" you. I met someone who lost the first ten years of her sons life. And it didn't heal her as I met her in a SI hospital.

    I strongly urge you to deeply explore the concept of radical acceptance. I'm not saying this to be mean, but you will never be the same person you were before the trauma. Trying to be this person again may be part of what's holding you back.
    gizmo, Britt.f7, Hashi and 1 other person like this.
  19. Hashi

    Hashi I'm a VIP

    I agree. I don't think five years of feeling you lost your self and are wearing a mask can be wiped out by ECT or any other treatment. I think treatments (such as meds) can support you while you find a new sense of self, though. I've already posted regarding ECT in particular, so won't repeat myself.

    I've tried a lot of different therapies and approaches before finding those that are right for me. The standard ones aren't always going to work for every individual, and if they don't there are others to consider.

    I've had to use radical acceptance over what I've lost to trauma and its effects. I have to accept that things are different than they would otherwise have been. I'd never choose this journey for myself and I wish I wasn't on it, but I am and I can't change that. I have to try to find a meaningful life based on who I am now. I think it's about integrating the past and moving forward to something new, not trying to get back to something which has gone/which might have been by "removing" the problems or being treated for them.
    gizmo, Britt.f7 and LC23 like this.
  20. Spiderallis

    Spiderallis I'm a VIP

    ECT has been brought up to me a handful of times. That meant it was time to put on the mask and pretend whatever medication suddenly worked great. I'm on my third antidepressant for this round of treatment, this time is different because the main diagnosis is PTSD, major depression is secondary. When I see the Pdoc next week, I get to tell him that there's no change in my mood, but the jaw clenching is worsening the headaches I have every single day. If it's mentioned again, I'm saying yes to ECT. Memory loss wouldn't be a big problem for me, I don't have kids or many happy memories.
    gizmo and Britt.f7 like this.
  21. Springer80

    Springer80 I'm a VIP

    It's funny but I was thinking about this over the past couple of days. I ad this sense of relief from imagining he bit of my brain that hurt from constant cognitive circling being shut up for a bit.

    I know it's not as exact of temporary but sometimes the thought of it seems tempting. Oh to be a brain zombie!!! I don't mean to be flippant about it. However, I imagine the scenes at the end of last seasons Homeland and it puts me off. The reality of it seems brutal.

    I had some somatic therapy recently and my therapist helped me devise a way I can do it to myself. The cranial thing seems interesting.
    gizmo likes this.
  22. Britt.f7

    Britt.f7 I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I have definitely considered ECT. I had a friend do it when we were younger and she seemed fine. She really didn't have any complaints about it. Sometimes I feel like I've talked everything out and the meds just aren't working. Mostly it is to stop the depressive episodes or lessen them. After 40 years of being mostly Depressed, especially the really, really, bad episodes, I don't know if I can stand it much longer. As far as memory loss, I think with the PTSD and the depression and my chronic illness, I have lost a good portion of my time with my kids.

    However, I'm pretty sure, with my ICD, that it wouldn't be an option. Kind of frustrating. I do think, if things don't start to get better, I will try the EMDR. The hard part has been trying to find someone nearby for that. Driving is often a difficulty for me.

    I do know ECT isn't like it used to be, but I do think it is very smart to look around for a very, very competent doctor.
    gizmo likes this.
  23. Pencil

    Pencil I'm a VIP

    The main thing to realise about EST is that NOBODY knows how it works, why it works, what exactly it does etc. They (the 'Experts') only know that somehow, mysteriously, it often works for depression, and sometimes work for other things. And that should be more than enough reason to steer clear.
    ScaredOfLonely, Britt.f7 and gizmo like this.
  24. gizmo

    gizmo Follow a rainbow trail.
    Premium Member

    I would not do it. It seems too traumatic to the brain and I am concerned about the risk of memory losses. It seems barbaric. Be careful. What works for one may not work for another.
    piratelady and Britt.f7 like this.
  25. Lucycat

    Lucycat "Wisdom begins in wonder." ~ Socrates ~
    Premium Member

    I wouldn't argue with your logic. However they also don't know how come paracetamol relieves pain. Just enough evidence that it does. Would you not take it because they cannot tell you why?

    I would never advocate medication or treatment without the evidence- bur sometimes we just have to accept the evidence is not there even though the proof is.
    piratelady likes this.
  26. Pencil

    Pencil I'm a VIP

    ;)No, I would still use Paracetamol because it works 100% of the time in exactly the same way for every user. ECT, on the other hand, is a gamble. Hemingway committed suicide after ECT: His depression lifted, but he lost his ability to create - 'It was a brilliant Cure but we lost the patient'. If it is recommended for major depression, and the patient is happy with the idea, I would not try to dissuade. If, however, someone is uncertain about its efficacy for PTSD, my view would be 'If in doubt, don't' - which is basically what I said.
    Shellbell likes this.
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