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Forums / Treatments, health professionals and therapies / UPDATED: Impending ECT Treatment

Topic: UPDATED: Impending ECT Treatment

12 posts, 0 answered
  1. danman
    danman avatar
    7 posts
    11 April 2016

    Hey everyone,

    Just new here and thought I would get some feedback on Electroconvulsive Therapy. I have suffered from chronic depression and anxiety for 13 years and despite trying different meds/dosages and talk therapies nothing has worked.

    I havent worked for 18 months and when I did beforehand, the longest I ever worked for a company in the same industry was about 16 months.

    I have had enough of this insipid, draining and tiresome illness and have been assessed as being suitable for an ECT program. I have researched the ins and outs of ECT and at this point, the pros outweigh the cons.

    I will be going in as an inpatient for 4 weeks in 6weeks time so would appreciate any feedback from people that have had ECT.

    Anything positive would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers Guys




  2. Chris B
    Community Manager
    • Works for beyondblue managing these forums. Not a mental health professional, but here to help. Email:
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Chris B avatar
    1757 posts
    11 April 2016 in reply to danman

    Hi Daniel, welcome to the forums. Below are some threads we've had going on ECT at various times, you should find some insights there as well as other members to talk with about this:

    ECT treatment

    Tired of being depressed now - looking at ECT?

    ECT - my experience

    My wife has just had ECT - what is the recovery time?

  3. topsy_
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    topsy_ avatar
    1091 posts
    11 April 2016 in reply to Chris B

    Hi Daniel

    I've had ECT & it saved my life. It was over 20 years ago now.

    Like you I had tried so many different AD's with lots of different dosages. I remember my first ECT. I hadn't slept properly for so many months. The anaesthetic felt warm & sleepy & the staff allowed me to sleep it off afterwards.

    The doctors would always say they planned 10-12 treatments but I used to feel so much better after 5-6 that we used to stop. They would talk about maintenance ECT of once a week ongoing but it never happened.

    So I have to agree ECT saved my life. But I also have to say it ruined my short term memory. The doctors would never accept that ECT was the cause. However from what I read these days it is more openly acknowledged as a side effect.

    I was extremely upset that my memories of my children's growing up years were just gone. I still have the same short term memory problems today.

    But, as I said, ECT saved my life. Short term memory problems were the price I paid. So I guess when you weigh it up it was either alive with poor memory or dead with excellent memory. Obviously a ridiculous choice.

    I wish you well. I think ECT has been further refined in the 20 since I last received it so some of these side effects could be diminished.

    Good luck Daniel, Lyn.

    2 people found this helpful
  4. danman
    danman avatar
    7 posts
    11 April 2016 in reply to Chris B
    Cheers Chris appreciated mate
  5. danman
    danman avatar
    7 posts
    11 April 2016 in reply to topsy_

    Thanks Lyn

    Appreciate the input.

    1 person found this helpful
  6. Cee92
    Cee92 avatar
    2 posts
    29 April 2016 in reply to topsy_
    Confused by your short term memory loss. I am currently trying to decide whether ect is right for me. Am scared about the memory loss. Did you lose short term memory from the time that you had the ect? And you have had bad short term memory ever since? It hasn't gotten any better?
  7. topsy_
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    topsy_ avatar
    1091 posts
    30 April 2016 in reply to Cee92

    Hi Cee92,

    My memory damage from ECT was traumatic. Whole years of my children's childhoods are just "gone". (I received ECT treatments during their childhood years. They are grown with families of their own now). For years afterwards they would say to me "do you remember when we ..................?" And I had no memory of what they were referring to. I still don't. Now however my girls just tell me rather than ask.

    My short term memory isn't as bad now but it's not great either. I would speak to your doctors & see what they say. I think it was perhaps unusual to be so badly effected. I'd had such a good memory previously.

    I hope everything works out well for you. ECT did save my life & improve my depression, so it was worth it.

    Take care, Lyn.

  8. Harrmeli19
    Harrmeli19 avatar
    2 posts
    29 July 2016

    Hello Everyone,

    I thought my first post should start with something particularly topical for me at the moment - my experiences with ECT.

    I am actually starting ECT bright and early Monday morning as an outpatient. This is the second time I have lined up for a course of treatments, the first being in 2012/2013.

    As to my experience the first time around... Not at all traumatic for me, which is why I am voluntarily having another go!

    I work as a health professional and was very lucky to be able to see ECT done, before ever having it done... and as a medical procedure it's pretty much a non-event. That is NOT to say it is not taken seriously by staff or that people who have had negative experiences should feel diminished by this fact. For many, many patients, ECT is a huge step and individuals, worries or concerns are totally valid and to be respected. But as a treatment, there isn't much to it.

    My first block of ECT was also as an outpatient. I have been an inpatient before, but have never had ECT during admission. If anything I think inpatient ECT would be slightly more enjoyable as you could at least have a good nap in a real bed afterwards, rather than a recliner! But otherwise it is always nice to go home to your own bed.

    My ECT routine was/is the following:

    Fast from 12 midnight, arrive at mental health unit (public hospital) at 0700. Quick blood pressure and pre-op checklist completion with ECT nurse then taken up to theatre with up to 2 other patients, no special pre-medication required. IV inserted by anaesthetist, hospital gown put over clothes and a couple of sticky dots on the chest. When it's my turn, I walk into the theatre and hop on the bed, get given a little bit of oxygen and then the sleepy drugs. Next thing I know, I'm waking up in recovery with lovely nursing staff watching over me. Once I'm awake, back down to the unit for a snack and relax. After lunch a quick check over by the nurse and on all doctor, then picked up and driven home for a nap!

    A couple of times I woke up crying but for no particular reason and certainly not because I was distressed. Afterwards I generally have a few little aches and a bit of a sore jaw, but nothing a couple of Panadol haven't cured.


  9. Harrmeli19
    Harrmeli19 avatar
    2 posts
    29 July 2016

    Part B (yes, I am long winded!)

    I have had little bit of memory loss... I think... As you can probably tell, I actually have a good memory of the treatment and period of time around it, which is normally the worst affected. I think I have had some more vague longer term memory loss, with details of past events either missing or foggy.

    However, I feel like my memory has been deteriorating slowly since the day I was diagnosed and started on medication. Unfortunately for me I think a slightly porous memory is simply a consequence of my entire mental illness - part sickness and part treatment-induced. Post-ECT I have never found myself forgetting the really important stuff. I have remembered important passwords, banking details, directions etc. I have also maintained the cognitive ability to work - but only when my entire condition improves. During an acute episode, all bets are off cognitively!

    Obviously, since I am lining up again on Monday, ECT did not "cure" me the first time around a few years ago. It did however break a particularly crappy cycle I was in, which no medication could get me out of. ECT didn't do all the "fixing" but definitely provided the crucial kickstart to my eventually recovery.

    I am extremely hopeful of the same result this time around. Having been off work for few months and on a truckload of meds it is time to take the next step. Fingers cross I have the same positive experience this time around.

    Cheers and good luck. :-)

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Anjadaz
    Anjadaz avatar
    2 posts
    13 November 2016 in reply to Harrmeli19

    Hi there,

    im just wondering how you went with the rest of your ECT treatment ? I'm looking at having it done and are so hopeful that it will work for me. I hope you have had success this time around too...

    Cheers 🙂

  11. perilpetey
    perilpetey avatar
    2 posts
    18 February 2017 in reply to Anjadaz

    Hello fellow sufferers

    I have suffered from serious chronic depression for over 30 years. I have been treated with all types of medications, including MAOI’s, tricyclics, SSRI’s and currently with Lithium and antipsychotics. Despite being completely compliant (as they say) with meds I continue to suffer bouts of very disabling depression and I absolutely hate the weight gain associated with current meds. I am considering trialling ECT, however I am very very afraid of the memory loss. I work in a very demanding high level job (and despite being 60 need to continue working indefinitely to support my family.) Does anyone have any experience of having ECT and then returning to work? How much time did you need to take off work? Is ultra brief ECT any better than the older kind, and does unilateral or bilateral have different issues with memory loss. I would be grateful for advice.

  12. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    6142 posts
    19 February 2017 in reply to perilpetey
    Hi perilpetey, you may find the answers to your question in this thread:

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