Mayo Clinic Connect
Have you had ECT therapy? How long ago? How are you now–regarding thoughts, abilities, amnesia, memory recall? Are you working to rehabilitate your mind? Do you notice a loss of emotional feeling?
Hi Anyone, I am just now feeling the full after-effects of ECT. Mine were done in 2012. I am finding out that they did more damage than I thought, I feel very apathetic toward everything. This is distressing since I used to be fun, playful, and I think I used to care too much, too much empathy (not including the borderline personality disorder, suicidal thoughts and depression. with all of that fired up, I was a hot mess). How do you feel? How have you been changed?
Hi @liloleme. Welcome to Connect! Thanks for starting this discussion. Here is a patient story from Mayo Clinic you might find interesting- http://sharing.mayoclinic.org/discussion/game-on-in-ruths-battle-with-depression. I’m also tagging @roxie43, @edeleo, @aspen47, @ckat and @drashok who have posted about this in the past and may like to jump in. I hope you find some answers!
I have had ECT. Almost one and a half years ago. I opted for this treatment due to my treatment resistant depression. I have been depressed my whole life. Mostly with disthymia. I had a great outcome for exactly one year with Zoloft back in 1990, but it quickly lost it’s effectiveness. So I tried other SSRIs with no good effect and any other medication that i was offered. Talk therapy seemed to help more. Around 2000, I also took Nardil (an MAOI), but the only prescribing psychiatrist moved from New Mexico to New York, so although that medication worked very well, i did experience an episode of a bad interaction with a food and could not find a doctor who would manage that treatment. So, I had to change meds again. More SSRI’s because that is all there was. I think i tried every single one that existed. So, It was a godsend when my diagnosis changed to bi-polar and I started the “gold standard” of lithium. I had a good run with lithium, almost 15 years! But this time the major depression hit me so hard i ended up hospitalized, perfectly poised for ECT, I had 5 sessions. I had some short term memory loss of just before the sesssions and for a few months i suffered some changes to my cognition such as getting lost driving, having no sense of direction, and losing things like keys or sunglasses, but i combined the therapy (my doctors wanted me to do 10 sessions) which i could do outpatient, but after the 5th one, I knew i had had enough, with DBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy developed by Marsha Linehan. Oh, I still battled suicide ideation for months, but eventually that too went away. I participate in this year long DBT program and am getting ready to complete. It has helped me more than anything. At first i let the psychiarists try to prescribe medications, but post ECT every medication quickly triggered unacceptable side efffects, from dangerously low blood pressure, to narcolepsy, to severe stomache aches that ended me up in the ER more than once. In my past, before ECT and DBT, i was often asked by my doctors to “humor” them; so i took medications that really did not help my moods but since they didn’t seem to hurt me either i took them for a while at least. I guess my doctor’s were hoping for the placebo effect. Post ECT, the meds were making me violently ill, so because of the ECT and the outpatient cognitive behavioral education of skills building in both a group setting and in weekly individual counseling sessions, I have been released from the psychiatric physician clinic because i am no longer diagnosed bi-polar and have not been taking any psychotropic medications for almost one year!!! And i am doing great, getting strongerer every day. No long term memory loss, i still remember when i was one or two years old and hold all other memories since then, the same as how I remembered them before. What did not survive is my relationship with my fiancee of 2 years whom i have had a relationship for almost 5 years.
Liked by kathymeyers
I have had ECT every 2 weeks for the past 2 1/2 years. I am one of the lucky ones as I have minimal memory problems and my suicidal thoughts are greatly reduced. I will continue ECT until it stops working for me and I don’t see that happening in the near future. I do take anti-depressants and anti-psychotics to help keep my depression in check but I think that is just what I will have to do to keep me well. Good luck to everyone.
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That treatment course sounds like overkill . . , just saying. . . my goal is to jump start a long term break from psychotropic meds. How do you function? ECT has rough stuff. Who takes care of you?
Yes, i have had ECT. Seventeen months ago i had five sessions, during a hospitalization following a percieved suicide threat, though i was initially prescribed 10, i felt 5 were enough. My suicide ideation was intensified at first and i had a lot of anger. But, a year and a half later, i am going great! Others may argue, but I KNOW HOW I FEEL! I am no longer flat-lined emotionally, even if emotion regulation is a constant challenge; it is a welcomed challenge. I had been on lithuim for over 10 years for bi-polar 2 and had been taking one or more psychotropic medications continuously for over 25 years. Because of this major depressive episode, i am no longer prescribed benzodiazipines for anxiety and no more hydrocodone for chronic pain. Although i complied with several trials of various mood stabilizers immediately following ECT, i experienced so many adverse side effects that 6 months after, i opted to go it medication free. (Not entirely, as i am prescribed Adderall for ADD and medical cannibis for chronic pain.) Most importantly, I started DBT skills training (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, a cognitive behavioral approach to treatment, as a personality disorder was also diagnosed) in outpatient weekly group process and weekly psychotherapy sessions. A year and a half after the ECT, i am still in psychotherapy with a therapist who is working with me on processing trauma. I am currently actively developing a treatment plan going forward that will include naming a psychotropic medication for prescription in the event that i have another major depressive episode.
I feared the memory loss, as i am a writer and have an extremely keen memory from a very young age which i did not want to lose. What memory loss i did experience can best be described as survivoralist and can best be described as fuzzy memories immediately before during and after the sessions, ie, relationship problems that i deeply wanted to heal. Other manifestations, were not as disturbing and can best be described in behaviors such as losing my keys or locking my keys in the car. I also had some difficulty with my sense of directions, not remembering without great concentration how to navigate, while driving, to places i had before been many times (my daughter’s house, my doctor’s office). That resolved itself after a few months. My handwriting, penmanship, became gorgeous and i developed the strength to make many positive changes in my life, like adopting a healthier lifestyle, curbing alcohol use, eating for my particular needs, exercising and weight loss, and separating from my alcoholic fiancé! I support this option for treatment of severe, treatment resistant, with suicide ideation depression.
Liked by Colleen Young, Connect Director
I had several treatments in 2011. The pain and migraines were excruciating but my mood improved a bit. Ultimately I had to stop because I couldn’t tolerate the migraines. Although research shows that ECT does not impact one’s memory I feel very different. Two years later I forgot that I was cooking and burned my kitchen down. While I feel that the treatment saved my life and I often consider doing it again the memory is impacted. If it saves a life it’s worth it
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