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A summary of issues in electro convulsive therapy (ECT)?

Posted by bbaird (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 8, 04 at 14:34

Has anyone had electro convulsive therapy (ECT)?

Someone I know, who has been on medication for 30 yrs, really needs it as a last resort, but, she's terrified. She's severly depressed and house-bound.

I'd appreciate hearing specifics from anyone who's had ECT:
1)What to expect
2) How many sessions are needed
3)Are there memory/cognitive problems afterwards
4)What does it feel like

Everything you can think of. Please feel free to email me if you want it to remain confident.

Thank you.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: A summary of issues in electro convulsive therapy (ECT)?

Certain behaviors, such as depressive or destructive thinking becomes habitual and because the behavior blocks the normal response, any kind of treatment is difficult. Therefore if you can interrupt this behavior, then the patient can be treated better.

The ECT seems to do this. The patient is somewhat foggy for a few days and the memory for that time may be absent or just foggy for a couple of days. Then, the patient is more receptive for treatment, either medically or psychological.
Hopefully, the habit has been broken, at least for a while.

How many treatments will depend on how she responds to the first. She may need several. She may not. My mother-in-law had several and it worked quite well. It was years before the depression returned. Then, it was taken care of quickly and she only needed one or two. It's been so long that I have forgotten all the details of her ECTs

She will be sedated so much that she probably will not be aware of what is happening. If it is done on an out patient basis, she will need someone to be with her afterwards. After a few days her memory and cognitive function will be back to normal. She may not remember the details of the treatment or any unpleasant depressive thoughts that she had immediatly prior to the ECT. That's one thing that is hoped for, that she forget the thoughts that she was having that kept her depressed. Normal memory about normal things does not seem to be bothered.

It used to be used a lot. But it was found that it's usefulness depended so much on what was done afterwards. Not all patients got appropriate treatment. Nor did it do any good to those that had actual brain malfuction of some sort. It was not a cure all. But it is still used for the depressed patient where nothing else seems to work.


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RE: A summary of issues in electro convulsive therapy (ECT)?

Thank you so much for responding. She's also worried about having to, first, go off her medications before the procedure can be done.


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RE: A summary of issues in electro convulsive therapy (ECT)?

Her worries about doing without her medication is understandable. How long a period will she be off them? For that time, encourage her to make plans ahead of time for activities that will keep her busy. If you and other friends can, make arrangements to take her to lunch, play cards, get her out of the house, maybe a trip to a spa....just anything to keep her from being by herself with little to do. If she likes to read, get her to get a stack of books from the library. Rent some movies, (but be careful what kind)

It's really nothing to worry about. I am sure that she will do just fine.


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RE: A summary of issues in electro convulsive therapy (ECT)?

No, she can't go out. She's severly phobic. She's house-bound and has been on very strong, serious medications for 30 years. I'm not sure how long it takes to get them out of your system. The meds are to prevent her from committing suicide at this point. It's a VERY SEVERE case. Even on the medication, she's too depressed to do anything except sleep and watch tv.

It's really sad and scary for those of us around her.


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