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ECT facts/evidence


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you hear quite a bit of negative stuff about ECT.  my doc at stanford medical center claims the permanent memory loss is INCREDIBLY rare.  and he says he's treated many who are very dependent on their cognitive function- lawyers, professors, etc.  If it's often effective and the side effects are temporary, what is there to fear?  am i missing something?  is my doc sugar coating it?

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As i understand it, it's not uncommon to lose memory around the time of treatment.  Your memory of the time before and after usually remains more or less intact.

Followup treatments are also often required.

If you've got a doc at Stanford who is recommending it, go for it.  He knows better than anyone here what is right for you.

Is there potential for for lasting side effects.  Yes.  It can't cause as much brain damage as a bullet though, so if comes down to a choice between the two, go with the ECT.

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There is a lot of negative stuff out there about ECT, a lot of it is from people who have no or little actual experience (and in some cases information).

My pdoc and the pdoc who probably would have done ECT for me, both at a major medical school, assured me that the chances of my losing cognitive function or long term memory loss was very small. They said I'd likely lose some memory around the time of the treatments, which they agreed could be done outpatient if I had someone around and was willing to not try to do too much (like cook on a gas stove).

Cognitive function and memory are very important to me, I have a very expensive and long education and do research and teaching -- loss of either one would have been devastating and possibly career-ending.

If you've got pdoc's at Stanford who are recommending it, and reassuring you about the potential side effects -- then it seems wise to go with their advice.

Fiona

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  • 1 month later...

I received 6 ECT treatments late last year and as far as memory goes I lost about two months worth. Thankfully I was in the hospital for this section of my life so not remembering this is not a big deal. Thats my two cents

take care

trg247

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  • 8 months later...

I just finished a series of 5 0r 6 (really can't remember) ECT's and other than that basic number, I have forgotten only a few vague minutes and the content of a book I read just before the treatments. I remember the books I read during the treatment though. The pdoc performing the ECT was very straight-forward about the chance of some memory loss -- My pdoc says that she (the one doing the ECT) never sugarcoats things and she was right. I don't feel completely undepressed, but I do feel much better and I don't feel suicidal anymore. I'd do it again.

Tommy

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  • 1 year later...

but if multiple treatment options have failed for you, you may want to contemplate the value of regaining your life vs. losing a small portion of your memory (which is most likely of the really bad days anyway).

I think it'd depend on how many other treatment options have failed you--and how many were tried in the first place. If you've tried just about everything in the book, then ECT "makes sense." If you've only tried the SSRIs/SNRIs for instance, though, then I'd have a serious chat with your psychiatrist.

EDIT: By the way, it's been a while... How did the ECT work out for you?

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  • 1 month later...

I had 6 treatments (uni-lateral) and lost a couple months of memory and some other random things.. The worst was waking up with a bad headache. I broke my jaw when I was 18, and because of the seizure, it really messed it up. It did eliminate my manic and depressive episodes and my urge to self harm and starve myself.

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