Electroconvulsive Therapy for Treatment Resistant Depression

Posted by Roxie43 @roxie43, Dec 3, 2011

Dear Readers,
How are you all? I am hoping that you are doing everything within your power to recover from whatever ails you because we all deserve to be at peace, live our life to the fullest and even get the best treatment possible for our illnesses. I am a woman in my 40’s with a chronic history of depression, anxiety, PTSD and recently became agoraphobic because I only felt safe at home.
I have tried so many medications, most did not even touch my depression, but one did (Remeron) and of course I gained over 30 pounds in 1 year so my medical doctor was not pleased. Then, a cruel person, or shall I say a person with her own issues became emotionally abusive with me and she stirred up so many unresolved feelings that I became very ill to the point of incapacitation.
I was really scared, desperate and almost gave up but my treatment team would not give up on me. The discussion of ECT came up and I thought that I was going to throw up. I have heard some horror stories about ECT so ambivalence and mistrust was my initial reaction. Then, I agreed to do it and after my physical exam cleared me for the procedures I did it. Now, I am a huge chicken when it come to dentist and being put to sleep. My first ECT visit……well prior to going, I genuinely thought that I was going to have a heart attack. However, I wanted to get better so I did it! This big chicken did it but before I did my doctor from Yale, Dr. Ostroff and his team explained everything to me. There are 2 ways to do ECT. One is bilateral where both sides of the brain receive the treatment and then there is unilateral which is only on the right side of the brain where there is minimal cognitive damage, less side effects and virtually no memory loss…..for me anyway. My only complaint would have to be headaches but this is questionable because I suffer from migraines and need a darn root canal.
Anyway, once you arrive for your session this is what happens;
1) You go to the ECT suite
2) Take off your shoes
3) Lay in bed
4) Vitals are monitered
5) If***heart rate is too fast due to nerves or other issues one is pre-medicated to control heart rate.
6) IV is put in as this is how you are put to sleep
7) You are then transferred to the small ECT room.
8) You are made comfortable with a small pillow
9) You are then asked are you ready?
10) You are then told..ok you are about to get very sleepy and have a funny taste in your mouth
11) You wake up, did not feel a thing, and feel sleepy
12) You are back in the ECT suite
13) Your vitals are being monitered again
14) You are given something to drink if you asked~no food or drinks after midnight the night before.
15) You are told to get up from the bed and sit in a small seating area where you put your shoes on.
16) After being observed for a few minutes, you are taken to the waiting area where someone should be waiting for you because you are not allowed to drive the day of the procedure. This is a wise thing to do because after the induced seizure, medications, and brief nap one awakes a little woozy and tired.
17) You leave with your next appointment in hand, go home, rest, eat, drink and can take ibuprofen a couple of hours after the treatment.
18) FYI**** After the first session, due to having your first seizure and muscle relaxants one can be a little sore but this is only after the first session.
It’s not the baberic treatment many report. I am not forced to have the procedures done and after 8 sessions I am no longer living in darkness. Yesterday, my memory was tested and I scored perfectly. The unilateral approach is the best approach for me because I want to return to work soon and need to be able to continue remembering things and focus on my work.
I have a wonderful treatment team. However, I won’t lie. I still get scared because no one really knows how the procedure really works but there is enough research that demonstrates that it does work. There is also word of mouth. I am proof that ECT works and although I don’t enjoy the feeling of being put to sleep, I know it is done safely and I know that slowly but surely I am recovering.
Recovery is our ultimate goal! I hope this was helpful. I understand not everyone has had my experience with this procedure but I must say people are tired of barely living because of their mental ilnesses and everytime I go, 3 x’s per week, there are 12-20 individuals waiting for their ECT treatments. If nothing else is helping you, please do not give up. If the biggest chicken on this planet can do it and reports an improved mood, no suicidal ideations, am cooking again and can laugh once again, it is at least worth discussing.
Best of luck to all & god bless you all during this holiday season and beyond 🙂

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

Liked by Kit, Roxie43

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Hi,
Thank you for sharing as well. I remember when I first heard about ECT at work and decided to look it up online. Wow, some of the information is very dated and scary. To date, if you go on youtube there are some videos that will make a person think twice about the treatment and it is a real shame because it really works, saves lives, offers hope and restores a persons ability to continue being a productive citizen. I went back to school later in life to earn a master’s degree and have worked in psychiatry for almost 20 years so when my own illness became unbearable I had to make a choice “fight or settle”. I decided to fight because I deserve to live a good life. We all deserve to live a good life. You are so right about misconceptions and I believe a lot of it stems from fear. I am happy to hear that ECT also helped you. It can help others as well……….

Liked by Roxie43

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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I agree. Some of the videos online seem to be meant more for some kind of sick entertainment than presenting the facts. I am currently working on a documentary about ECT for my college journalism coursework. Especially because you work in psychiatry, I would be eager to interview you about your experiences. Would you be interested? I see that you are from Hamden, CT. I will be in Poughkeepsie, NY until late December – not too far from you. Please do let me know if you are interested, and I can give you more details. My email is edeleo@prescott.edu.

Liked by Roxie43

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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sure. I will email you

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Hello,
I have decided to work with Edeleo for a documentary that she will be doing on ECT. I am going to be interviewed soon. I decided to participate because I strongly believe, that in order to give others hope, one has to be open about treatments that saves lives. I am pleased that so many people have read my post in such a short time and I hope that my story will be interpreted positively and encourage readers to explore all the possible forms of treatment with their providers. In addition, the pic that is posted is of me during a time that I was very happy. I need to take new pictures because I am getting there, happiness, but if I post recent ones (earlier this year) I might scare you.
Edeleo, thanks for contacting me and sharing your experience. You appear to be a lovely young lady who also wants to give back and inspire others……

Liked by Roxie43

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Dear Readers, feel free to ask me questions about my experience with ECT, Talk Therapy & Medication Management.
Best,

Liked by Roxie43, EcthelpJen

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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http://www.cchrint.org/tag/coalition-against-psychiatric-assault/

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Still feeling good after my experience with ECT. Returning to work soon and will admit concerns because work is where the cruel person/s that hurt me are but I guess that I need to stay focused on work, my recovery and not own other peoples issues. Misery loves company! So true but I will never allow another health care hypocrit to hurt me again.
Please if you are being bullied follow the chain of command and if what you report is swept under the rug contact legislatures, ADA enforcers, community providers etc. I was the victim of bullying and discrimination in the workplace and it caused my first episode of incapacitation. I am thankful to all those that cared about me and helped me recover including ECT.

Liked by Roxie43

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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I too enjoyed reading your story. I have the same symptoms you had before your ECT, including not wanting to leave the house. I haven’t been able to work for 7 months now. I was just released from the hospital after two ECTs and am supposed to go back tomorrow for a third one and am really struggling with that. After the first one, I felt on top of the world, even in the hospital, therefore, I was REALLY looking forward to the second one. But it didn’t do the same as the first one…I came out of it crying for two days, feeling more depressed than I ever have in my life, to the point by three sons and granddaughter felt I needed someone with me even two days after….I’m questioning going again tomorrow, what if it makes me even MORE depressed again? Did you experience anything like this, Roxie? Oh, and the headache…it’s horrible! I would appreciate any advice you have. Thank you.

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Hi,
Thank you for sharing. From what I was told is that ECT usually requires 12 sessions and the monthly maintenance. In my opinion, 2 sessions might not be enough. Also, everyone responds differently but I still think 2 sessions is not enough. If you can tolerate a few more sessions you just may see a difference. As for the headaches, I totally feel your pain because they are horrible. I was given a muscle relaxant called Soma which eases the headache. I still prefer to be able to function again. You might also want to discuss anti-depressants in combination like I did. I would advise you to keep your appointment tomorrow. I was not cured but I feel so much better. I am able to leave the house and do things that for over two months were challenging.
ECT is not instant and the required sessions are important but like I stated everyone can complete every session recommended.
I would like to know how you feel when you’ve had at least a few more sessions with an anti-depressant.
Best of luck, have faith that brighter days are ahead and please keep in touch.
Big hug Rox….

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Thank you for writing back so quickly, Roxie. I went to see my psychologist today and she felt I should see my psychiatrist tomorrow and put the ECT on hold. I’m truly afraid of another one sending me into a suicidal depression, and that is just not “me”. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees with ECT, which way it will go and it has made me a nervous wreck. I will see the doctor tomorrow and give myself a break and maybe reconsider next week. Part of me is saying just to taper off everything and see what kind of person I really am without meds or anything. I was given Vistaril for anxiety today and hopefully that will calm down my stomach, nerves and everything else I’m feeling that is anxiety related..

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I see that by sharing you are being a good support.
I had my bout of depression when I was in medical school. Then a brief episode of hypomania. For 30 years I am leaving with depression. No medicine works (yes, the anxiety is out). I am incapacitated at home. My medical practice is on hold.
Psychiatrist have suggested I take ECT. ECTs haven’t helped in the past. My ex reacted strongly pleading me not to take ECTs for she as care provider has seen how futile they have been. I would not mind taking ECTs or any other thing on earth or beyond, but the funny thing is I am so inactive that I am not able to force myself to go to the doctor.
That’s the present state. I am typing these lines at 3.30 am from India.
Perhaps some sharing of suggestions might give a breakthrough and bounce me back to good health.

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Hi edelo,
How far has your documentary progressed?

REPLY
@edeleo

I enjoyed reading you your story. I admire that you chose unilateral ECT so that you can return to work. I too am an ECT success story. My experience of the procedure was virtually identical to what you describe. I want to clear up misconceptions about ECT, so anyone who reads this and has questions, please feel free to contact me.

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Postponed. Additional supervision was needed but when she’s ready we will connect.

Liked by drashok

REPLY
@drashok

I see that by sharing you are being a good support.
I had my bout of depression when I was in medical school. Then a brief episode of hypomania. For 30 years I am leaving with depression. No medicine works (yes, the anxiety is out). I am incapacitated at home. My medical practice is on hold.
Psychiatrist have suggested I take ECT. ECTs haven’t helped in the past. My ex reacted strongly pleading me not to take ECTs for she as care provider has seen how futile they have been. I would not mind taking ECTs or any other thing on earth or beyond, but the funny thing is I am so inactive that I am not able to force myself to go to the doctor.
That’s the present state. I am typing these lines at 3.30 am from India.
Perhaps some sharing of suggestions might give a breakthrough and bounce me back to good health.

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Hi,
I think if we develop a community of support people feel more hopeful because they realize they are not alone. I know depression can make a person feel so alone at time like no one else in the world can possibly understand but we are not alone. I am sorry ECT did not work for you in the past. You must push yourself, however, and think of other ways you can move about. How about yoga, meditation, adding abilify or some other anti-depressant? It does not matter how old one is as we all deserve to live a meaningful life until the very end. Also, try not to focus on work or other stressful things.
I wish I were nearby to push you, motivate you and encourage you to force yourself to act so you can recover. Look at all that you have accomplished in your life. You have a lot to be proud of. You have to believe in that person again because underneath all the pain and despair still lies a wonderful person.
May your higher power guide you and shine lots of sunny days your way.
Rox

Liked by drashok

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