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Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Discussion in 'Therapy' started by batgirl, Jan 28, 2007.

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  1. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Just curious if anyone else has ever had ECT (shock therapy), or knows much about it? I had 10 compulsory treatments after I was suicidal in 2003. At least I think it was 2003, my Memory is a bit fuzzy. I've never wanted to admit it on here before and I haven't thought about it for a while. But I've been bored the last couple of days and done a little research on it. I have big gaps in my memory of that period and problems with short term memory even now so I'm wondering if that has anything to do with the treatments? Can ECT cause brain damage or permanent memory problems? I'm also looking for a good site to read, if anyone has one to suggest. Thanks.
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  3. veiled

    veiled I'm a VIP

    We had a thread about that a while back and I think it was pushed as a hard no and bad side effects if I remember right (I could be wrong). I may be wrong but I think it was Cathy's doctor pushing for it? I have to look it up again for you.
  4. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Oh okay that's weird I did a search on the forum for an article, but maybe I didn't use the correct search terms. Anyways thanks veiled, hope you're having a good day.
  5. veiled

    veiled I'm a VIP

    Well, if you ignore the fact that one cat is finally not in heat just in time for the other female to start... I won't kill the cats won't kill the cats... Then it is an OK day :) I hope yours is doing well and glad to see you online.

    Oh LOL here is the thread I had in mind. [DLMURL][/DLMURL]
  6. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Thanks so much veiled. I'm going to read it right now.

    Edit: OMG I just read the article bec included. God I'm sorry I had it, bleah. Oh well, too late now I guess... plus I didn't have any choice in the matter.... :(
  7. cookie

    cookie I'm a VIP

    yeah, he's still pushing sometimes, but my therapist was biting her tongue not to say anything, she was relieved when i told him no.
  8. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Well for me, it didn't hurt or anything cookie, they put you to sleep and all you feel afterwards is a bit of a headache. But like I said I have huge memory gaps. Generally I wouldn't remember anything for about 2-3 days before and after a treatment. So about a week total loss of memory. And like I said I still experience short term memory problems. I don't remember certain details about things, and I often forget I have said something to people... sometimes I've even gotten into fights because people insist I've said something but I insist I didn't.

    So yeah if I were you, I would continue to avoid it if you can, there's are lots of other treatments that are less invasive, and from what I've read now, ECT seems like something to be used as a last resort.
  9. ghost

    ghost Active Member


    I am interested to know if anyone here has had electroconvulsive therapy(ECT).

    I am aware that it is considered an effective treatment for Depression, but I have virtually no information about its effectiveness in treating PTSD or Anxiety generally. If anyone is aware of a source of information on this topic I would appreciate it if you could direct me to it.

    Further, if you have had ECT, I am interested to know:
    - What the experience was like;
    - If it was beneficial;
    - Any negative side-effects; and,
    - If you would recommend it.

  10. catjudo

    catjudo I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I have not had ECT but my ex-husband had a few courses during our marriage. He does not have PTSD, but really severe depression. If you're interested, I can come back and share some specifics of our experiences with it. The bottom line is...he hated it; it was beneficial; obviously beneficial enough that he went back and had it again when his symptoms got out of control again; definitely had negative side effects but the benefits outweighed the negatives (in his opinion as well since, like I said, he used this treatment on more than one occasion). Without exaggeration, we both consider ECT to have been life-saving for him.
    ghost likes this.
  11. Medic72

    Medic72 I'm a VIP

    I have never personally experience ECT but did participate in the delivery of it during my training as a medic. For me, it was a horrible, inhumane and archaic practice.

    It was hard for me to watch these 'eccentric' if not a little lost, people come in to the room, sit, chat with me (some were schizophrenic, so the conversations were a little humorous), get prepped for their procedure and then rolled into the room. I had to maintain their airway and ventillatory status under the supervision of an anesthetist during their procedure. It was a horrific thing for me to watch. I still shiver. Many of my classmates refused this section of training on moral grounds....I participated in the interest of science. However fascinating, there are things that you wish you just didn't get to see.

    I also got to help in the recovery room afterward, removing IVs and assessing mental status/vitals. Some of these patients were pretty messed up when they woke up, there were headaches, difficulty speaking, some were spaced out completely. Night and day from having talked to them at the start.

    One particular depression patient mentioned that it did help her depression, at least, she attributed her recovery to the procedure; she admitted that she now came out of her house and she made fewer Suicide attempts, she admitted to short term memory difficulty. I still think there were too many variables in place to conclude that the procedure actually helped her (or I was denying its usefulness in modern society).

    Funny, my T made some comment about this procedure having been stopped in the 70s - I laughed at her and she was horrified to hear my story. She had NO CLUE.

    My standpoint. I am morally opposed to the practice because of its longer term consequences.
    ghost likes this.
  12. ghost

    ghost Active Member

    Yes, ECT is very much still alive and well. Although, unlike several decades ago, patients are now put under general anaesthetic prior to their treatment.

    I was horrified several months ago to discover that lobotomies are still performed in certain cases. I was told of a psychiatric nurse who suffered from severe obsessive compulsive disorder. She was given a lobotomy which apparently helped to ameliorate her condition and significantly improved the quality of her life.


    Thankyou for your response. I would appreciate it if you could share the specifics of your experience. Did/does your husband suffer with anxiety at all? If so, did the ECT have any impact on it?
  13. catjudo

    catjudo I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    My ex mainly suffers from severe, treatment resistant depression that when at its worst results in violent outbursts. Anxiety is an issue for him, though typically not extremely severe.

    I definitely think ECT should be a last resort, but when all else has been tried and you still are having strong, dangerous (to yourself and/or others) symptoms it is definitely something to be considered. When I was pregnant with my daughter my doctor and I established a plan of action should my symptoms become so severe that I or my baby was in danger. I insisted that I did not want to be on medication that would be harmful to my baby and that I wanted to avoid inpatient hospitalization if at all possible. So it was agreed that if my symptoms became out of control my husband would consent and my physician would facilitate a course of ECT which is not dangerous to an unborn child. Fortunately this was never necessary. I experienced some significant depressive symptoms but nothing that we couldn't control without resorting to the extremes of ECT.

    Typically when a person and their physician(s) decide to undergo a course of ECT you are looking at receiving several treatments per week until you've completed approximately 9-12 treatments. Obviously this can vary significantly from person to person. It is important to realize that it is not a one treatment type of scenario.

    My ex experienced a great deal of anxiety surrounding the treatments. In his case it was the anesthesia in particular that frightened him. We learned that most people experience anxiety surrounding the treatment but the specific fear generally varies from person to person. When the doctors see how you respond to the treatment (both physically and emotionally) they are able to adjust the medication they give your during the procedure. Through this, they were able to medicate my ex to significantly reduce his anxiety during the procedure. Also, he did experience headaches after the treatment but they adjusted his medication for that as well and this was alleviated. After a treatment he would sleep most of the day but be fine the next day.

    As I said, these are a course of treatments. The short-term memory loss does not typically begin with the first treatment. But as you get into the course you begin to experience it. Again, the severity of this varies from person to person but for my ex toward the mid to end of the course his memory loss was significant. This included walking into a room and then standing there in a daze completely confused as to what he had gone in there for and/or how to do that activity. For example, after a shower he planned to shave. He picked up his razor but then stood there looking at it and unsure of what his intent was. I had to gently remind him that he was going to shave and then he proceeded with that activity. During his first course of ECT, he truly forgot that one set of his grandparents had passed away several years prior. I had to explain to him that they were dead and for him it was like experiencing the loss for the first time again. During the course of ECT you are not allowed to drive at all and this continues for one to two weeks after the course has ended (I don't recall the exact time frame).

    In time this short term memory loss dissipates. For my ex he does still experience some minor memory problems but it truly is difficult to know what may be related to the ECT and was is just the way he is. Even prior to the ECT he never had the best memory.

    Even if the ECT is successful for a person there is always a chance that they will require maintenance treatments. However, this is not necessarily true of every patient. Again, with every patient being different, the need for maintenance treatments can vary from every few weeks to every few months, once a year or never. The key is that when and if you start to experience an increase in symptoms, you get in for a maintenance treatment as soon as possible. This will allow you to only need one to two treatments and therefore the side effects are non-existent or very minimal. If you wait too long and your symptoms are again significant you will likely be facing another full course of ECT (that same 9-12 treatments).

    The natural question is having experienced ECT and all that it encompasses, would he do it again. Absolutely. In fact, he has done so. He has had a time when he let his symptoms get too severe and required another full course of treatment. He has also had a time when he began to experience an increase in symptoms, got in quickly and only required two treatments. When this was the case he did not experience any of the memory loss side effects. At this time he does not require maintenance ECT and it has been several years since his last treatment. Once he was no longer experiencing the depression symptoms he worked with his doctor to find a different medication regime that would keep the symptoms under control. So far this has been successful.

    I know that many people have very strong opinions about ECT. Many people are adamantly opposed to this treatment. Prior to my ex needing it I too thought it was a barbaric practice that was no longer used. But having been involved with and directly effected by my ex's need I no longer feel this way. I can say with all confidence that had my ex not consented to the ECT he absolutely would not be alive today. He was was in so much emotional pain and felt so Hopeless and helpless that he was determined to kill himself. He had already Attempted suicide by cop but fortunately they used their tasers instead of their guns. In the height of his symptoms he also became a danger to myself and our daughter. ECT is not for everyone but for those who truly need it, it can be a miracle.

    I hope this helps answer some of your questions. If there is anything else specific that you would like to know, please feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer based on our experience.
    pianogirl and ghost like this.
  14. pianogirl

    pianogirl Member

    Wow, what an informative set of posts for this thread! I don't know anyone who has had ECT, but I recently read An Unquiet Mind and Kay Jamison's opinion of it, and later read Undercurrents by Martha Manning. Manning is a therapist who had a depression that didn't respond to treatment and she had undergone ECT treatments. She had many fears about it and the book showed her gradual recovery from her depression and from the treatments.

    I need to research more about it, but after my own recent bout of depression and still battling it for about 5 years, I definitely have it in mind as a last resort, but also an option. I certainly hope I don't have to undergo it. However, if it helps me have a fuller and more complete life, then yes, I would serious consider it and undergo it.

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