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ECT and Memory


Loon-A-TiK

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hiya-

during my 5th hospitalization, my pdoc asked me if i wanted to try ECT. i told him i'd think about it and have to do my homework first, but that if i had to be hospitalized again that i'd probably go for it.

it has been almost a year since that time and i still have some questions. it is hard to find reliable, unbiased information on the subject from people who've been there. where are the testimonials? have these people forgotten about their experiences due to their ECT?! lol

i'd like to know what your experiences have been, if it has worked for you, and if you'd recommend it to me. i'm bipolar and i've read in the literature that ECT is also used for bipolar patients (as my pdoc said).

if i do end up in the hospital again, i think i'm going to go for it. if none of you have done it and i do end up there again, i'll be sure to fill you in! lol

loon

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yeah, my pdoc is really enthused about it. now that i'm on disability and have the time for all the hospital visits, i just may take him up on it. i just need more info.

i'll share any experiences i have if i go through with it! my meds are holding right now, but that usually doesn't last too long and i'm at the end of the rope with both mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics. if lamictal and/or risperdal fail, there isn't anything to fall back on- i've tried the others with very, very crappy side effects.

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  • 2 weeks later...

my friend went full on psychotic when she started zyprexa (she was given it for 'depression'). she ended up in the local mental hospital.

they tried a handful of drugs, and nothing worked, so they finally gave her ECT.

finally, she started to come back to reality, and they managed to get her stabilized.

she does not however, remember a single minute of her hospital stay. (possibly for the best) she doesn't seem to have any memory problems now, though, and has been quite stable for a while.

;)

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right, it's the time around when you do it that yoru forget, that seems like an added bonus. You feel better and get to forget the pit of your depression too.

One scarey story I heard on another forum I used to be on was from a woman who had to have an emergency hysterectomy around the same time. It was unrelated to her treatment though. The shitty part was that she couldn't remember having it and was really distressed to learn that a part of her was gone and that she could no longer have children and she couldn't remember any of it.

The memory of stuff before the treatment is almost always fine and the ability to remember stuff afterwards is almost always fine, but you can loose a few weeks there in the middle.

Whybrow's A Mood Apart that I have an Amazon link up for at the bottom of the page has a good explanation of ECT btw.

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I had six ECT treatments late last year and had to stop due to a reaction to being put under. My memory is still pretty good, there is a little hazy around the time of the treatments but I spent two months in the hospital so everything seemed the same when I was there. I know people who have sworn by it and others who felt the results did not last very long I am the latter group.

take care

trg247

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  • 3 months later...

hiya-

during my 5th hospitalization, my pdoc asked me if i wanted to try ECT. i told him i'd think about it and have to do my homework first, but that if i had to be hospitalized again that i'd probably go for it.

it has been almost a year since that time and i still have some questions. it is hard to find reliable, unbiased information on the subject from people who've been there. where are the testimonials? have these people forgotten about their experiences due to their ECT?! lol

i'd like to know what your experiences have been, if it has worked for you, and if you'd recommend it to me. i'm bipolar and i've read in the literature that ECT is also used for bipolar patients (as my pdoc said).

if i do end up in the hospital again, i think i'm going to go for it. if none of you have done it and i do end up there again, i'll be sure to fill you in! lol

loon

Loon,

I just had it done this last hospitalization. A series of six ECT's for BP1, 4 in-patient and 2 out-partient. I experienced none of the anticipated side-effects (headache or memory loss). All six of mine were bilateral ECT's and were administerred from 3 days to a week apart. They really seem to have helped, though I still occassionally break into a spontaneous bout of crying that lasts 2 - 3 minutes.

Tommy

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I have to add that I am now experiencing some memory loss from the time right around the treatments. Just before going in the hospital, I had read a book as homework assigned by our marriage counselor. Now, for the life of me, I can't remember what it was about and I need to re-read it. Also, I thought I was in the hospital 12 days, but my wife says I was there over three weeks. Of course, she may be mistaken, as the number of cigarettes I had with me wouldn't have lasted three weeks and I would have noticed running out. I only smoke in the hospital, but I never miss a smoke break while I'm there.

The only other thing I've noticed is a tendency to occassionally break into tears without any reason. Otherwise, I feel better than I have in quite a while.

Tommy

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  • 3 weeks later...

I ended up going back in for more ECT in early February. I had 3 more in-patient and, so far, one out-patient. I will have another out-patient one next Monday and then start a maintenance regime two Mondays later. The effect of the ECT for me didn't last real long, so it is hoped that the maint sched makes a difference. No memmory loss so far this time.

Tommy

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I got series of 8 ECT's while in-patient in Oct-Nov of last year. Good result, and only minor effect on memory. The autobiographical stuff seems intact - I remember things before, during and after hospital. What I noticed is that I forgot a couple of phone numbers, and that it somehow affects my sense of orientation - on a few occasions, when a street or place name has been mentioned, it has taken me longer than normal to remember where the place is situated, and when I first entered the grocery store after the treatments it took me a while to remember where to find the meat shelf. Everything has come back after thinking about it for a moment, nothing has so far been completely erased. I have honestly not experienced it as very distressing.

The good result however started to wane after one month. After two months I was acutely and seriously suicidal. Meds didn't help, so my pdoc decided on more ECT which worked immediately. I have now had 3 treatments out-patient and will have another next week, then discuss with pdoc how to continue. The side effects have been similar as in the original series - mild headache the day after the treatment, and that funny occasional confusion about place names. But I remember what has happened. Even right when waking up after treatment, I know where I am and why.

Even if I have had some positive results from ECT, I don't think I'd recommend it for any old problem, it's still a drastic method. But I have no shred of doubt that it was right for me, I have good reason to believe that my latest bout of suicidality could have become my last one, if I had not gotten the treatment quickly. I'm feeling hugely better now.

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I just had another maintenance ECT on Monday and have one scheduled for next Monday too. I was not actively suicidal this time, just really, really, depressed. It seems like the ECT's are having a smaller effect with each one. I see my pdoc on Thursday morning and we'll see if we want to change anything.

Tommy

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I saw my pdoc this morning and we are not going to change the ECT's. My pdoc is not the one that does them, but she is in touch with the pdoc doing the ECT's. She is raising my abilify from 15 to 20 to see if that helps depression-wise and lowering my klonopin to see if that helps me with the sleepiness. She wants to go back up a little on the lamictal, but needs to make sure with the ECT pdoc just what the cut-off is where the lamictal starts to interefere with the seizures for the ECT's.

Tommy

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It seems like the ECT's are having a smaller effect with each one.

This is a worry I have, that the effect will dwindle eventually. So far I have been fine, I went 2 weeks between my latest ECT's and stayed undepressed. Memory is still ok. But considering how all meds have eventually lost their power, I'm afraid of thinking too far into the future.

Tommy, I hope the med changes will help you.

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I think that ECT can be effective for short periods of time but most people require maintanence therapy. I would use it only if the pain was so bad that I was suicidal. I had four periods of ten ECT treatment. I have treatment resistant depression. The treatments were over a five year period. They did help me feel some better but did not bring me completely out of depression. The last ECTs were given almost every day royally screwed my cognitive skills particulary my short term memory and much long term memory. Before having ECT have someone read up on it with you and have that person stay very in touch with the doctor to be sure that the ECT is being administered correctly particulary regarding the number of times

and how close they are together.

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I just talked to a friend, whose dd is a friend of my dd's, who just finished 3 episodes of ECT. They have not been happy with the cognitive issues. Her dd is 19, like mine, and in college. There has been some memory issues although her PDoc (who is actually in the same practice as the doctor my dd goes) insists these problems will diminish with time. As for results related to her mania (which is a HUGE problem for this girl...and suicidal ideations), they've felt is doing o.k. but she tends to have periods of relative normalcy and then, quick suddenly, things seriously go from a 1 to 100 in less than a day. I'll keep you updated as Jan keeps me informed of her dd's progress.

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I'm starting to have a few more memory problems. Mostly little things, but I almost, not quite, got lost driving home from my folks' house last night. My wife refuses to visit them, so I was on my own and made a few wrong turns. It also got a little weird when I was just about home, because I couldn't remember what our street looks like at night.

The most annoying thing is forgetting computer passwords. At work, the IT folks can give me a new password easily, but at home I have a computer that is essentially a doorstop because I don't have a clue as to what the password is. I know I should have written it down somewhere, but somehow that didn't occur to me.

Even though the ECT seems to help a lot with the depression, I'm starting to get a little scared. I work as a librarian and depend a great deal on my memory to do my job. Also, when I forget things, my wife tends to think I am faking it as an excuse for not doing things.

Last Monday was the first time I had a headache after the ECT and my pdoc says I need to make sure to tell my ECT pdoc (a different one, of course) about it. I am pretty sure that after tomorrow, I will just be getting maintenance ECT every two to three weeks.

Tommy

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  • 4 weeks later...

I won't be having any more ECT's. We'll go back to relying on meds again. It got to where I only got a single good day out of each ECT. The day of the ECT, I would feel terrible, with a medium headache all day. The next day I felt great except for memory issues. By the third day, I slid back into bad depression again, no longer feeling any relief from the ECT.

Tommy

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Tommy, I'm sorry to hear the ECT's became useless, obviously little point in keeping them up if that's all you got out of it. Wish you better luck with the meds.

I'm still doing an ECT every two weeks and having good effect from it so far. Feel comparatively stable without having become zombiefied.

Glad I have gotten some opinions from people (on- and offline) who have actually done ECTs though. As I was getting ready for my treatment yesterday I chatted a little with the nursing assistant, a middle-aged lady who has worked in psych for a long time. She asked how I was doing now. I replied, and mentioned that I haven't had as much memory trouble as I feared. She said "Oh, but that is no problem, we always say memory comes right back after two days". I looked at her, and said "That's not what I have heard from other patients, some have substantial and long term memory glitches while others are more lucky, it seems to vary a lot between individuals and with how many treatments you get". She looked surprised and said "Really?? I had no idea! Maybe one should listen more to patients..." (revolutionary new thought ;) )

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Maybe one should listen more to patients..." (revolutionary new thought ;) )

Love it!!!

I'm hoping for better luck from the meds too, but at least I got some momentary relief from the ECT's

Tommy

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Now I find myself forgetting where the post ofice and veterinarian's office are. I eventually remembered, but it wasn't easy. The other day there was some construction on the way to work and I couldn't remember any of the myriad alternate routes so had to take a horrible detour. The other day, I was supposed to drop some plants off at my folks' house, but couldn't remember how to get from their house to my job. Most of these things come back, but not necessarily when you really need them to.

Tommy

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  • 3 months later...

Tommy, I'm sorry to hear the ECT's became useless, obviously little point in keeping them up if that's all you got out of it. Wish you better luck with the meds.

I'm still doing an ECT every two weeks and having good effect from it so far. Feel comparatively stable without having become zombiefied.

Glad I have gotten some opinions from people (on- and offline) who have actually done ECTs though. As I was getting ready for my treatment yesterday I chatted a little with the nursing assistant, a middle-aged lady who has worked in psych for a long time. She asked how I was doing now. I replied, and mentioned that I haven't had as much memory trouble as I feared. She said "Oh, but that is no problem, we always say memory comes right back after two days". I looked at her, and said "That's not what I have heard from other patients, some have substantial and long term memory glitches while others are more lucky, it seems to vary a lot between individuals and with how many treatments you get". She looked surprised and said "Really?? I had no idea! Maybe one should listen more to patients..." (revolutionary new thought ;) )

Ive done ECT and it was not helpful in treating my depression but did make me forget a whole lot of my past!! and they say the memory loss will return but it never did! I was having it 3 times a week, so maybe having it that much creates the worst memory loss...I did get a nice rest though!

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Lots of good information at ECT.org. Once at that web site, "search" for "sc law suit" and scroll down to "sc woman wins ect lawsuit." (sorry I don't know how to get it here)

I met this woman, Peggy, in person. She is a reliable source. Her phone number is listed.

ECT for me in the future doesn't make much sense. My experience has been that it does help some with the depression, but only for about a month. I've tried maintenance ECT and it does not work for me. The negative cognitive effects during and around the time of the ECT'S were horrible. I was like a child, very emotional, scared and crying, as told to me by my tdoc who visited me on several occasions while in the hospital. As indicated, I

have had severe short-term and long term memory lapses. It does seem to be getting a LITTLE better, since Dec. of 2005 at the time (I think) I had ECT. I can't recall phone numbers, birth dates, some peoples faces or names,

directions of places I used to visit, and sometimes daily information given to me now.

I am still depressed and still working on it. I have gotten better with medications. Currently I am climbing with Lamictal with some hope.

Now, I am sure that ECT has worked for some people. But it seems that the ECT is a short term solution for many people. The depression comes back quickly for most, and many people cannot tolerate the cognitive effects of maintenance ECT treatment.

Now, I am not saying I would NEVER have ECT treatment again. I do remember the horrible intolerable pain that I

was in before the time of my treatment. I was desperate. I guess if I get to that place again, and ECT is my very last option, I would do it again just in case it worked. I want to live.

I WOULD try to have an understanding with the doctor that we do as few sessions as possible that would be theraputic and have the sessions a few days apart if possible. It is NOT GOOD to have them every day.

ECT.org has good information.

If ANYONE has had a good experience with ECT I would sure like to hear about it, as it would give me some hope.

Tears come to my eyes as I think about having to go through that again. But, I guess we'll try anything when we get to a certain level of pain.

I guess that this topic was triggery for me. I fear sometimes that I will never recover to the point of where the symptoms of this illness will be reduced to the point of where I can have a functional life, with depression pain, physical and mental. It scares me that my mom died of suicide.

But you know what? I have some good days. It helps if I remind myself to accept the illness instead of trying to push it away from me. It helps to pet my dog. It helps when my boyfriend wraps

his arms around me. It helps to be with my children. It helps to give of myself on this board. It helps to read posts on this board. Sometimes it helps to pray. It helps to cry. If possible, it helps

to divert my attention. (T.V., novels) It helps me to rest.

I'm developing coping skills that work for me. I have hope. May we all NEVER give up!

(definitly triggery for me!!!)

Rhonda

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  • 1 month later...

I've looked into ECT as an alt therapy to the anti-depression drugs (which only work moderately well). From what I've read (research and autobios), it seems to work for depression but not mania. Is that really the case??

Also, I do worry about the memory loss, but I am more concerned about other cognitive imparements. I am a university prof, and its "publish or parish." How hard is it to integrate new information after ect? Does it impare your ability to analyze situations? Does it impare your ability to comprehend what you read? Does it leave you "stupid" for a period of time after treatment? ;)

Also, if you are looking for a good first hand account, check out Electroboy. Its an autobio of a m-d guy in NY and his experience with ect. He's really full of himself, but has some good first hand accounts of being bp.

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  • 2 months later...

I've looked into ECT as an alt therapy to the anti-depression drugs (which only work moderately well). From what I've read (research and autobios), it seems to work for depression but not mania. Is that really the case??

Also, I do worry about the memory loss, but I am more concerned about other cognitive imparements. I am a university prof, and its "publish or parish." How hard is it to integrate new information after ect? Does it impare your ability to analyze situations? Does it impare your ability to comprehend what you read? Does it leave you "stupid" for a period of time after treatment? ;)

Also, if you are looking for a good first hand account, check out Electroboy. Its an autobio of a m-d guy in NY and his experience with ect. He's really full of himself, but has some good first hand accounts of being bp.

not at all for me, being intellectual is very important for me as well as a college student and person and it has not affected me in that way whatsoever which is what really concerned me

as for analyzing new information I haven't felt much effects on that side of the equation, maybe I'll repeat something I had already said about myself to a friend or ask them a question about something I already asked but come to think of it most of those memories were probably before the procedure anyway

however keep in mind I did receive unilateral ECT

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

i just got out of the hospital and had ECT done while in-patient. ive also gpone backl for one out patient ect prtocedure., my memory os shot to hell during most of my hospitalizatyiuon but i was suicidal so maybe thats a good thing. im still depressed so trhats not so good. i dont know what to think. i have to go back in on 12/28 foir anothewr maintenance etc. we shall see....

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i just got out of the hospital and had ECT done while in-patient. ive also gpone backl for one out patient ect prtocedure., my memory os shot to hell during most of my hospitalizatyiuon but i was suicidal so maybe thats a good thing. im still depressed so trhats not so good. i dont know what to think. i have to go back in on 12/28 foir anothewr maintenance etc. we shall see....

are you going back to Brook Lane?

i might have to go back later this week because i'm suicidal again (i finally came down from that manic high i had in the hospital and started hallucinating) and i broke the "contract for safety" (all i did was cut myself) and my therapist is very strict about that kind of stuff because she wants me to be safe. but we'll see how well i get through the holidays...

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yeh, brook lane apprears to be the only place around here that does them and theyre an hour away! kind of sucks when you have to be there at 6:00am.

im actually depressed and suicidal again myself. but im too embarrassed to tell hubby or the dr. about it. i didnt have a 'contract for safety' or anything but im seriously tempted to plop a bunch klonopin....

i think i came home too soon. i told dr gonzales i was feeling great and his concern was that i was not un-depressed but just becoming manic-cy. which i wasnt. i was just a good liar. and now im home and very fragile. but i dont think i can tell anyone and then have to go back. i dont know what to do really.

anyway, my glasses broke when i was in the hospital and i ordered a new pair the day i got home. walmart called and theyre ready already so im gonna go get them now. i'll pm you later. i miss you!!!

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yeh, brook lane apprears to be the only place around here that does them and theyre an hour away! kind of sucks when you have to be there at 6:00am.

im actually depressed and suicidal again myself. but im too embarrassed to tell hubby or the dr. about it. i didnt have a 'contract for safety' or anything but im seriously tempted to plop a bunch klonopin....

i think i came home too soon. i told dr gonzales i was feeling great and his concern was that i was not un-depressed but just becoming manic-cy. which i wasnt. i was just a good liar. and now im home and very fragile. but i dont think i can tell anyone and then have to go back. i dont know what to do really.

anyway, my glasses broke when i was in the hospital and i ordered a new pair the day i got home. walmart called and theyre ready already so im gonna go get them now. i'll pm you later. i miss you!!!

so you're doing it outpatient, if i understand correctly?

if so, you should give me a call so we could meet up in hagerstown or something (i gave you my number in my last myspace message).

i miss you! and i would be absolutely devastated if you plopped a bunch of klonopin. please don't! stay safe.

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  • 2 weeks later...

well, i didnt plop a bunch of klomopin but i did take a handful. not enough for suicide though. im still going for outpatient ECT and had them switch me to bilateral. my memory is lame but not shot to hell. but i do forget quite a few things. thankfully my husband helps me to fill in the missing blanks.

i homeschool my two younger kids but my husband took them to his moms for the week and shes gonna school them so i can try to concentrate on just resting and getting better.

it seems that after each ect treatment, i come home very weepy and depressed and it takes me a few days to get to feeling more stable. today was session 8 and they tell me it takes 6-12 sessions to start to really feel a lift from the depression. i only had 2 sessions last week and will only have 2 sessions this week. i just really want to get them over with and pray to god that in the end, they really work and make me better. right now i have my doubts.

they did give me a prescription for ambien so i can quit taking the klonopin. im just having such a hard time faling alseep each night so hopefully this will be more effective thsn the klonopin.

i just want to be done with the treatments and in the end, be better and not depressed. and since the depression is so tormenting to me right now, im even doubting the mania. i havent felt manic in weeks. i just suck and want to just be over all this crap!

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