Electroconvulsive Therapy for Treatment Resistant Depression
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 🙂