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anybody had both unilateral and bilateral ECT?


lysergia
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i had unilateral ECT done at the end of 2013 (eleven sessions, RU).  it didn't work, and my memory hasn't ever been the same.  but i get by, it's just annoying and a little sad that there are things about my daughter's childhood i don't remember.

 

i'm having bilateral ECT done soon, out of desperation, and because it puts me into the pool for DBS if it fails.  honestly i'm not expecting it to work because the unilateral treatments didn't.  i'm just doing this because, well, when everything else fails, you just do whatever's left just in case.

 

has anyone had both types of treatments?  was there a difference in how effective they were?  were there differences in type and amount of memory loss?

 

i'm concerned about the memory loss aspect, since it's supposed to be worse with bilateral treatments.  i'm rather resigned now to the fact that nothing is going to make me feel like i want to be alive, but if my quality of life gets worse as a result of the treatments, it might be enough to make that resignation an action.  the flip side being that by some miracle i will want to continue living.  i feel like this has an equal chance of making me worse or better.

 

if anyone has experience, i would be very grateful.

 

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hey lys,

 

i've not done a full course of unilateral...did a few treatments and they weren't doing anything so switched to bilateral and did three a week for six weeks, so i'm unsure i am going to be able to give you the type of feedback you're after.

 

i'm posting though because the memory shit did suck. for sure. i still have some loss from the entire time and a month or two beforehand. *however*, a lot of the generating new memories (i was on repeater for months after) did resolve. it took more time, but i would say a year later (it's been two years now since i finished up...approximately) i was a LOT better than i had been memory wise. 

 

there is quite possibly...likely...definitely in my case...a trade off there with memory impact and efficacy of the treatments. that said, unilateral wasn't doing shit for me and bilateral ultimately wiped out my command hallucinations. so...it wasn't a bad plan for me overall, and i do have a chunk missing, but it's probably not a chunk i would miss from looking at what i was writing at the time and knowing some of the things i did.

 

hope that helps. xx

 

EDIT: weeks...not months...

Edited by mellifluous
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I've had both. The unilateral did nothing for me and we finally found a place that did bilateral. I don't remember much memory loss from unilateral, but I did from bilateral. That was because they gave me one index series, 3 a week for 3 weeks, and I did well but only for a month then got depressed again, so they did another index series and then started spacing them out for maintenance, which I get one now every 4 weeks.  I ended up losing a lot of memory after the second index series. I lost good chunks from the last 6 or 7 years. I did get some of it back, gradually, and my memory for recent things is fine. The single maintenance doesn't mess with my memory. But I have to admit there are a lot of things I don't remember. I remember everyone in my family and good friends, but forgot the names of people at church although I remembered their faces. I relearned all that. I also forgot much of my son's wedding and had to relearn directions to places I had known before.

 

I really have to stress that for me it was worth it. I was going to die otherwise. I was not having real relationships with people because I was in bed all day and when I was awake I was crying and trying to kill myself. This had gone on for a solid 5 years. The only change was when I'd have a mixed episode and so wasn't sleeping as much but felt worse. It was hell. Now I am happy most of the time, have good relationships, especially with my husband. It did not cure my anxiety, so I still have a hard time interacting with others. It was strange to find out depression and anxiety are not the same. It always seemed the same to me before. Now that the depression is out of the way I have been concentrating on improving my anxiety. I can now go to the grocery and church as well as the multitude of doctor's appointments.

 

So for me I don't mind the memory loss when I think of how different things are now. I am happy to be alive. I have things that interest me. I have fun and laugh without having to fake. I hope yours have a similar effect.

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thank you both very much.  it really helps to hear the truth - that the memory stuff really sucks, but the bilateral worked when the unilateral didn't.  pdoc keeps telling me that in her experience bilateral really is a different, much more aggressive animal, and that i should not expect that the outcome will be the same.  but i can't find a lot of research to back that up.  now i have two more votes in her favour, heh.

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  • 2 months later...

I haven't posted in forever but I have had have but unilateral and bilateral ECT.  I had 28 treatments (not sure how many were bilateral).  My memory the year before I had ECT is incredibly patchy.  I attended my best friend's wedding and barely remember any of it.  I also have three weeks in the middle of treatment no memory of whatsoever (I did keep a journal though.  It is a bizarre experience to read about a time of your life you have no memory if). 

 

I ended the series thinking it had failed because I was still really depressed.  My pdoc said there is evidence that meds work better after ECT - and that's what happened.  I started getting some results from meds that hadn't worked before.  After about 6 to 12 months, I did begin feeling well enough to be somewhat functional.

 

I think I will have at least low level depression for the rest of my life.  My pdoc still tweaks my meds from time to time to see if I can do better, but I have resigned myself.  But I have managed to hold down and do fairly well at a job I like, am in a successful relationship, and live a relatively normal life.

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thank you Persephone, your experience makes me feel hopeful.

 

i'm on treatment number nine next week.  we went from two a week to one every two weeks because the anesthetic (and the new meds) are making me so sick.

 

the memory effects are more horrific than i imagined.  i cannot begin to explain all the things i no longer know, whether they be new or old.

 

i imagine it to be sort of like this (probably a terrible analogy): if alzheimers means that a major wire in your brain is permanently disconnected, then that wire in my brain is broken but not totally severed.  things don't work until you jiggle the wire, but sometimes jiggling the wire doesn't do anything either.  and sometimes the wire just works and i don't have to try.

 

i am however continuing for now.  my hallucinations are quieter.  my intrusive thoughts are gone.  i am still depressed, but it is much easier to fight when my brain isn't full of those things.

 

i had to write all that down because i'm going to forget, just like i forgot i even asked the question to begin with  :o

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I had lots of problems with anesthesia too - usually I spent the next day vomiting.  That combined with the memory loss does make having any sort of quality of life impossible.  But once the treatments start being spaced out, the side effects will become more manageable. 

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  • 2 months later...

Unilateral worked for me but it only lasted one week. I had to do bilateral treatments which lasted 2-3 weeks. The memory got better when I went to 3 weeks but there are still things I have lost from my past (which stinks) . It mostly affects my short term memory. The day of the treatment I get nausea sometimes too :(

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