Posted 25 January 2012 - 06:15 PM
I read a lot about the side effects and didn't experience any (nor did I talk to anybody in the waiting room receiving ECT) that had experienced side effects that I hadn't heard about. Still, ask your doctors.
I was lucky that I didn't have any memory loss, but most people do have some short-term memory loss, so be prepared. I got really severe headaches after treatments, even though they gave me a lot of medications for them. That was really the only side effect I dealt with.
I started mine in August of last year. The first time I did it, I had fifteen unilateral treatments, and started to feel results around my 11th treatment, even though I was told I would probably start feeling results earlier. (That's really the only thing that was "wrong" about what I was told.) The results lasted for a month. I then went back and had 13 bilateral treatments, but had no response. Though I had no memory loss, the doctors stopped due to the fact that they didn't want to cause any long-term cognitive damage.
Would I do it again? Yes. I'm one of the rare people who just didn't respond. However, I saw SO MANY people who did respond. I saw people who transformed before my eyes... they looked like COMPLETELY different people. And for the month that the results did work for me? Wow. I had never felt that way in my life. I felt like I was living for the very first time. I wondered if this is how everybody normal feels... like every day. It was amazing. And the best part? Someone I knew well came up to me and said, "Wow, you look incredible! What did you do?" I had done my makeup the same, my hair the same, and was wearing my usual t-shirt and jeans. I realized then that I had transformed, too, just like the people in the waiting room. I looked happy.
As for side effects? YMMV. Some people had more memory loss than others. Some people didn't get any headache like I did. Some people got nauseated. It's different for everybody. And don't listen when people tell you when you'll feel results... I had so many people, both doctors and patients, tell me things... but everybody's body is different. So don't get discouraged like I did if it takes you longer than other people to feel results.
I would recommend ECT a thousand times over. (And for the record, every other patient that I met did respond to ECT, so it truly can be a lifesaver.)
As for what to ask your doc? Ask what kind of meds you can take and when -- both prescribed and over the counter. Ask if you'll be receiving unilateral or bilateral treatments, definitely. Bilateral treatments are usually (but not always) more effective for most people, but they also have more side effects, especially an increase in memory loss. Ask what side effects that they personally see most often. After you have your first session, see what side effects you personally have and ask the best way to treat them. Hmm... I can't think of any other questions right now, but I will be thinking about it and I'll reply again.
Dx: Bipolar II that mainly focuses on severe depression. I also have General Anxiety Disorder with panic attacks, ADHD - inattentive, mild OCD, mild agoraphobia, mild "some sort of eating disorder,"and insomnia. I also have Hopefulness, Optimism, Idealism & Surprisingly Happy Disorder. That helps!
Rx: Lamictal 400 mg, Geodon 160 mg, Forfivo 450 mg, Armour Thyroid 60 mg, Vyvanse 70 mg, Adderall 30 mg PRN, clonazepam 1 mg TID, temazepam 60 mg, alprazolam 1 mg PRN, and Diet Dr Pepper 2x daily. (Will be going off Forfivo, Vyvanse, and Adderall completely and cutting down on benzos for a medical study for dTMS for Bipolar Depression.)
Previous Rx: Abilify, Adderall XR, Ambien, Ambien CR, Aplenzin, Concerta, Deplin, Effexor, Latuda, Lexapro, Lithium, Lunesta, Parnate, Paxil, Pristiq, Prozac, Remeron, Ritalin, Seroquel, Sonata, Topamax, Trazodone, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, and Zoloft.
Other Treatments: 15 unilateral ECT treatments between August 5, 2011 to September 29, 2011; 13 bilateral ECT treatments between November 2, 2011 to December 16, 2011. Use of a light box.
"A dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep. In dreams, you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true."
"I could never be cynical. I wouldn't dare. I'd roll over and die before that."
-- Audrey Hepburn
"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in the lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It is yours."
-- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged