Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia and Cognitive Deficits

ect.org note: This article is appearing in numerous publications and websites, so to avoid repeating the same information again and again, an ongoing list of publications will be posted below.


Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia and Cognitive Deficits, Prominent Researcher Admits
12.21.06, 3:38 PM ET

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In a stunning reversal, an article in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology in January 2007 by prominent researcher Harold Sackeim of Columbia University reveals that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) causes permanent amnesia and permanent deficits in cognitive abilities, which affect individuals’ ability to function.

“[T]his study provides the first evidence in a large, prospective sample that adverse cognitive effects can persist for an extended period, and that they characterize routine treatment with ECT in community settings,” the study notes.

For the past 25 years, ECT patients were told by Sackeim, the nation’s top ECT researcher, that the controversial treatment doesn’t cause permanent amnesia and, in fact, improves memory and increases intelligence. Psychologist Sackeim also taught a generation of ECT practitioners that permanent amnesia from ECT is so rare that it could not be studied. He asserted that most people who said the treatment erased years of memory were mentally ill and thus not credible.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that more than 3 million people have received ECT over the past generation. “Those patients who reported permanent adverse effects on cognition have now had their experiences validated,” said Linda Andre, head of the Committee for Truth in Psychiatry, a national organization of ECT recipients.

Since the mid-1980s, Sackeim worked as a consultant to the ECT device manufacturer Mecta Corp. He never revealed his financial interest in ECT to NIMH, as required by federal law, and, until 2002, did not reveal it to New York officials as required by state law. Neuropsychopharmacology has endured negative publicity over its failure to disclose financial conflicts of journal authors, resulting in the editor’s resignation and a promise to disclose such conflicts in the future; yet there is no disclosure of Sackeim’s long-term relationship with Mecta, nor did Sackeim disclose his financial conflict when his NIMH grant was renewed to 2009 at approximately $500,000 per year.

The six-month study followed about 250 patients in New York City hospitals, an unusually large number; most ECT studies are based on 20 to 30 patients. Sackeim’s previously published studies were short term, making it impossible to assess long-term effects. “However, in other contexts over the years — court depositions, communications with mental health officials, and grant protocols — Sackeim has claimed to follow up patients for as long as five years. This raises serious questions as to how long he has actually known of the existence and prevalence of permanent amnesia and why it wasn’t revealed until now,” Andre said.

Besides finding that ECT routinely causes substantial and permanent amnesia, the study contradicts Sackeim’s oft-published statements that ECT increases intelligence and that patients who report permanent adverse effects are mentally ill.

“The study is a stunning self-repudiation of a 25-year career,” Andre said.


Other publications that have picked up the story:

Dec 22 2006:

Medical News Today
Dallas News
TXCN.com – Healthcare & Hospitals
Philadelphia Weekly
Genetic Engineering News

Comments (140)

TomasDecember 26th, 2006 at 11:10 pm


Racheltosha.January 30th, 2007 at 10:53 am

i love ect. i want it-sooo bad

robinFebruary 11th, 2007 at 7:01 pm

I can’t get anyone to believe I have severe memory loss. I lost the mommy years and have such an empty void to deal with.

DebbieMarch 29th, 2007 at 11:25 am

I had ECT about five years ago. I have lost so much memory its unbelievable. It definitely didn’t help me and the doctor’s didn’t even call the insurance company to get prior approval! I will always be angry at the people who talked me into having it done!

tracy shipleyMarch 30th, 2007 at 11:23 pm

my sis had ect done-cuz my mom wants to avoid everything

DianeApril 2nd, 2007 at 1:44 pm

My insurance company denied approval of Vagal Nerve Stimulation last year because I never had shock therapy. They also said that VNS was experimental. So I had a series of 12 shock treatments over three weeks. I feel that I was coerced/bribed/forced to get ETC. Because of the memory loss and difficulty recalling recent events, I cannot do my job. I am now on short-term disability.

Also, I was not told beforehand that I would have to have maintenance ETC to stay depression free. This makes me very upset. CAN I SUE THE INSURANCE COMPANY? (I don’t want to sue my doctor–I like him.)

My memeory and short-term recall are very sparse. I went to a conference last month. I remember virtually nothing–not even the meals. If my colleague mentions one of the topics, I may or may not remember it.

I do not want to have maintenance ECT. It’s possible that my insurance company will change their policy within the next 30 days, but I’m afraid of losing some of the benefit of being depression free that I paid such a huge price for.

CiCiApril 22nd, 2007 at 10:04 pm

My girlfriend had forced ECT in the late 80′s. She has moderate memory loss. We just recently were able to get a copy of all of her medical records- there is so much she does not remember or had no idea had happened. In present time, we end up having the same converstations over and over again about every 3 months. Don’t know if this is related to the ECT treatments or not.

Whenever she drives somewhere I have to hand write her directions and draw a map…even if she has been to that place a hundred times, or lives in the area- she never remembers. Directions also have to be reversed in order for her to get back home. She tells me that she will be driving and feel that she is going the right way, but then her mind tells her to turn or go a different way. Don’t know if this is related to ECT also. Can be very frustrating.

SueAnnMay 8th, 2007 at 2:21 pm

I had ECT this past March (yes a whole month in the psych unit). It has greatly helped me, but I have noticed several things about myself which have changed with my memory, speach/train of thought. I have just now started to really do research on the effects of ECT, mainly weeding out what’s true and what’s not. I have a great psychiatrist who is honest and has stated that these issues are related to my ECT treatments, but should resolve with time.

But how much time? When can I go back to work?

I work with mentally and physically challanged adults which means I need to be quick mentally and physically.

Am I gonna have to change my career in the medical field yet again?

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change having ECT for anything, but people really need to KNOW and UNDERSTAND the side effects before undergoing treatment.

I wish you all the best in your own recovery.

JoeMay 15th, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Why shouldn’t ECT be availble to those who have no other options? I’m not saying it’s something that should be taken lightly, but for some, this may be their only hope for a normal life. Memory problems? Cognition problems? maybe so. But what’s that compared to living in absolute misery?

I think if some of these people who’ve had ECT could remember how distraught they were before treatment, they might reconsider some of their negative feelings.

Ellis ClevengerMay 16th, 2007 at 1:53 am

My wife had years of ECT treatments before we met. She also had a few after we married (against my better judgement). My heated discussions with her doctor about the effect on her fell on deaf ears. Both hers and the doctors. The event that finally convinced her otherwise; after a treatment, she had no memory of our lives together or our marriage. Needless to say, the doctor still was not convinced. We have another psychiatrist now.

Luann HahnJune 18th, 2007 at 8:39 am

I suffer from major depression and was hospitalized with nearly constant suicidal thoughts from Dec’01 through Mar’02. I was put on all sorts of medications, none of which helped before they decided to try ects. I had 18 ECT treatments in Feb-Mar’02, which ultimately helped reduce the frequency and strength of the suicidal impulses.

As side effects from the ECT, not only did I lose most short-term memory of that time period (some memory, but more of as a dream, and just fragments) but also of the 6 months prior. I was so impacted that at first I had trouble reading words written in fancy scripts (e.g., gothic) and my ability to process info was so slow that I could not drive for about 6 weeks.

By the time I recovered enough from the depression to resume work (10 months later), I initially found that material I knew as knowledge for years and years was difficult to retrieve. However I found that once I began working with the material again, the knowledge returned, as though the neural networks were being rebuilt.I had short term memory problems but I was generally able to compensate by making scrupulous notes and using various reminder techniques.

My psychiatrist at the time pooh-pooh’ed all these observations. I dropped him when he recommended more ECTs when I continued to have suicidal thoughts instead of exploring other medications. I felt that my state was not as severe as it had been when I previously had ECTs.

My new psychiatrist is great. She acknowledged my ECT side effects were real. She also switched my medications and we were eventually able to eliminate the suicidal thoughts (it’s been 2 years now they’ve been gone). She also treats me with Aricept, an Alzheimer’s medication, which seems to help. I had stopped it for a while, but noticed a definite decline in my memory.

All said, despite the side effects, I strongly feel that that ECTs are beneficial as a last resort. However, I think that the risk of brain injury should be treated proactively and that it should be treated just as brain injury after a stroke is treated.

Some things that I find helpful are doing crossword puzzles, doing Sodoku, doing word games on the internet — I think any of the items touted for brain training are helpful.

The effects of ECT can be brain injury and it should be treated as such. Maybe some day in our lifetime it will be.

Michael BrownJune 28th, 2007 at 12:30 pm

After having two to three years of heavy aniti-depressent drugs of every type I began ECT in January of 2006. From then until February of 2007 I had 62 shots of ECT.

I decided on my own to quit. I don’t blame any one but myself. It was keeping me from being suicidal. I asked for it weekly and pretty much enjoyed it. The downside is the memory loss and the cognitive disability.

Both have had huge effect on my life. I am not able to go back to work as much as I’d like to. I’d hope my mind will return to its former state.

John DJuly 15th, 2007 at 12:52 pm

I thought about ECT,but my psyc has told me alot of negative things. I am bi polar but I do have a neurological problem such as paying attention and comprehending what I read and try to learn. I have tried ADHD drugs but they create serious side effects for me. Im at a loss. I dont know if ECT is for me I already have a memory problem and it is difficult for me to formulate words for a regular conversation. My brain needs something to get it going.

MattAugust 4th, 2007 at 8:47 pm

I looked into the side effects of ECT. Those who support ECT have dulled them down in what appears to be a sales pitch of some magnitude. However they all mention memory loss (they dull it down by modifying it with “transitive”), they mostly mention confusion and cognitive difficulities and often nausea and vomitting.

Next I looked into the known, neurologicaly validated symptoms of brain damage. Lo and behold, the so called “side effects”of ECT are exactly the same as the medically proven and known symptoms of brain damage.

Somehow the psychiatrists who are promoting the use of ECT seem to have these two obvious observations nicely separated as they quite confidently state that ECT does not cause brain damage. In other words they are trying to say the the side effects of ECT, though exactly the same as the symptoms of brain damage, are in fact some other manifestation. Of course to admit that ECT caused brain damage would create the same PR problems and litigation which ECT had in the 1970s. How do they get away with this lies?

[...] There’s no short-term about it. Long-term memory loss and cognitive impairment have now been acknowledged even by proponents of ECT. [...]

PeteAugust 21st, 2007 at 12:02 am

Matt, is that from “Toxic Psychiatry”? I’m reading that right now and sounds a bit familiar :P

JenniferSeptember 18th, 2007 at 4:09 pm

I am confused by one part of the article. In it there is a claim that “Since the mid-1980s, Sackeim worked as a consultant to the ECT device manufacturer Mecta Corp” but on the other letter to the editor article on this same web site it says that he has never received any compensation from them?

Is there any documentation or proof that he was being paid by both NIMH as well as the equipment manufacturers?

Its just a side issue but if part of the article is flawed it raises questions about the rest of it.

Michael BrownSeptember 23rd, 2007 at 4:04 pm

I had weekly ECT from Jan 06 until Mar 07 with several sessions of 6 and 12. My short term memory is almost completely gone and my long term memory is barely in existence. Not much has returned as I was led to believe by the doctors involved. I am having to relearn most everything over. I was a chemist and have lost everything required to return to work. I now would never recommend this procedure to anyone. I had a VNS installed and this has just started to work great. The only down side is it takes up to a year to make a difference but considering Iv’e been dealing with the depression for 30 years that is short. I am presently looking into initiating a lawsuit. Someone has to pay, there are too many of us out there having to deal with amnesia. Best of luck to everyone. Mike

dinahOctober 11th, 2007 at 10:54 am

In 2003,I had only seven ECT “sessions” at $3,000 a zap! I have lost much of my long term memory. I am cognitively impaired. I feel like a stranger in the same body. I wouldn’t recommend this procedure on my worst enemy! I stopped after seven sessions for two reasons; first because ECT caused the worst headaches of my life.Second because I was turning into someone I didn’t know. The pain exceeded the gain. The ECT may have stopped me from killing myself at the time, but I still live with chronic depression which has not responded to any known treatment by any psychiatrist.

adrianOctober 11th, 2007 at 12:01 pm

if anyone can tell me who forces you to go to get E.C.T i would like to know.im doing a depression project and i need info or answers i showld say, my e-mail is, adrian_algor@netzero.com

thank you for your help

AnnaOctober 20th, 2007 at 2:36 am

I have never spoken of my own personal experience with ECT. My story began in September of 1997. I was a 34 year old single mother raising two adolescent sons.My employer regularly hosted an annual American Red Cross blood drive.I had been a donor for several years.Three weeks following a blood drive in early September of 1997 I received a letter in the mail from the American Red Cross explaining that I had tested positive for Hepatitis C and advising me to follow up with my own physician.I called my physician immediately and from there…
I began Interferon treatment in early January of 1998. Four months into my treatment I began experiencing severe depression.Although I had a history of episodic depression,this was by far like nothing I had ever experienced before.I had to take a leave from my job and my family physician referred me to a mental health clinic.They diagosed me with bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder and started me immediately on anti-depressant’s, anti-psychotic’s and anti-anxiety medications.Not one doctor or psychiatrist considered or entertained the idea that perhaps the interferon treatment I was undergoing might be the underlying cause of this or at the very least, a can of gasoline and a match to light it with on a pile of wood.Instead they sent a social worker to my home three times a week for the next four weeks to drive me (I couldn’t drive a shopping cart around the grocery store let alone a car at that time with all of the medication that I was on) to a hospital (this was a regular medical facility, not a phychiatric hospital)to undergo ECT and brought back home, propped in a chair to await the arrival of my son’s return from school that day. Alone. When I look back at that, I think it’s a miracle my son’s didn’t come home and find me dead in that chair where I was left – alone.At the time the doctor’s told me that I would experience some temperary memory loss but I would recover it within 3-6 months following the treatments. It didn’t happen like that for me. I recovered my early childhood memories up to approximately fifteen years of age but upward or onward from there I have significant gaps. I apologize for being lengthy in this post, but I’d like to share a story with you that really illustrates the impact that this can have and the additional pain and humiliation that it can cause,perhaps someone can relate to this. About a year after the ECT I made an appointment to have my hair done.I hadn’t been into the hair salon for nearly a year by this time.As Neena, my long-time hairdresser was working on my hair she asked me if I made it home alright that night? I had absolutely no idea what on earth she was referring to.Then she asked me if I remembered her pulling over in her car on a cold and rainy night back in mid-November and offering me a ride home?I was still completely blank. “You don’t remember, do you?” she said.All that I could do was shake my head no.
That haunts me to this day. Sadly there are other dangerous situations that occurred that I have very vague memories of. What I wasn’t told was the effect that ECT would have cognitively.This has been devastating. I loved to read, journal and write poetry. I had a fairly broad vocabulary and I was always an accurate speller.I went back to school, a local university, but I found that I couldn’t even read a paragraph and tell you what I had just read – regardless of how many times I read it or wrote it out over and over again in an attempt to save it to my memory. I struggle with problem solving, math and numbers, interpretation of information, skills that I once had are lost to me and I don’t understand how one can forget something that they’ve done hundreds of times, day after day but now you can’t. The information is gone, lost. I sure wish they had backed up my hard drive first. Thanks for letting me post. As I said I don’t talk about this but it felt good to share this with someone.If there’s anyone that may have a similar experience in terms of a hepatitis C diagnosis, adverse interferon treatment reaction and underwent ECT, adding insult to injury, I’d love to hear your story.

AnnaOctober 20th, 2007 at 3:05 am

“First, do no harm”
(Hippocratic Oath)

Second, to those who come, having already been injured,
“Do no further harm”

JasonDecember 23rd, 2007 at 1:32 am


“First, do no harm”
(Hippocratic Oath)

Second, to those who come, having already been injured,
“Do no further harm”

Third, “Call your stock broker and then go golfing with your buddies.”

Fourth, “Spend another week at your vacation home in Hawaii, paid for with the money of your miserable patients that you view as nothing more than income generators.”

LeslieDecember 24th, 2007 at 11:30 am

My mother recently recieved 6 shots of ETC, and was supposed to get 9, but her and I felt like that was pushing it.

She is bipolar and depressed, and no medications have worked. She is totally different than she was before the shocks. I feel like she does not respond quickly, she stares a lot, and she doesn’t laugh, cry, or talk that much. However, she knows that she is not herself. It has been three days since the 6th treatment.

Can someone please tell me if this is normal? It’s christmas eve, and I want my mom back!

TamaraJanuary 12th, 2008 at 9:37 pm

I suffered depression from as young as I can remember. In 2000 I had a three month manic experience (my first and last) and then fell into a deep depression. I talked with my physician and told him I couldn’t live this way anymore. He contacted the Univ of WA and I was admitted on October 1st and discharged October 31st. I remember very little of my hospital stay or six months before or after. I have no clue who suggested ECT or why and have no memory of consenting. (I’ve been considering lately requesting my records.) I left the hospital on three medications yet was as depressed as when I was admitted but didn’t anyone to know because of the long hospital stay and treatment. A friend of mine (psychologist) suggested a change in one of my medications and overall I have done great since. I definitely have memory loss and trouble learning. I was getting my Human Services degree before ECT but I am unable to retain information so had to give up on that. I have considerable trouble coming up with words in conversation. My thinking is fuzzy as if my head were in a cloud. I do fine in my work because it is fairly repetitious but it took me quite a while to learn my tasks.

I have no idea if ECT, ECT and the medications, or just the medications have made the difference in my life. I do know I have considerable long-term side effects from ECT that have diminished my ability to learn.

YoungJanuary 21st, 2008 at 1:29 am

Hello, is there anyone who has problems in talking with others? My brother had ECT two years ago and has been suffering to find it so hard to communicate with others other than memory loss. He’d like to know if this problem results from the ECT.

Thank you in advance!

NinuccioJanuary 25th, 2008 at 10:00 pm

ECT. was deadly for me. It erased whatever memory I had left after neurosurgeries. Now what comments could I possible have about ECT. either positive or negative. Well I have these comments…which are simply facts. These comments were made by a prominent doctor who has been instrumental in taking some of these quacks to court. Mine was not successuful…but please take note. This guy was able to do with no problems whatsoever. In the middle of New York City…openly and without care lied on my papers. Lied to the government on the reason for me to be admitted for Social Security. Lied on my condition attributing it to paranoid schitzophrenia as to the reason for my plight. Not mentioning that had been the result of the neurosurgeries. Thus protecting the prior doctor…: 1) Subjecting the patient to controversial and potentially damaging electroshock
without informed consent. 2) When the patient’s brain function was already impaired, subjecting the patient to another
brain disabling treatment in the form of electroshock.
3) When the patient suffered from an extreme reaction to electroshock, continuing
with the treatment. 4) Failing to inform the patient and family that malpractice had been committed by Dr. xxxxxx 5) Failing to inform the patient and family that the patient would never recover from the brain damage inflicted by the psychosurgery and compounded by the electroshock.
6) Giving electroshock to on obviously incompetent patient with no legal guardian, and therefore without consent. 7) Inappropriately prescribing electroshock for a patient in whom it was unwarranted.

Just a few notes to take into consideration…WHAT A JOKE OF A MEDICAL SYSTEM.

ipehJanuary 30th, 2008 at 11:00 pm

please email me sariemaniez@yahoo.com
i’ve done an ecT project…so i wanna know anything bout what u’ve feel

MKFebruary 25th, 2008 at 2:11 pm

yes, i had amnesa ..it was tradgical. My friends called me crazy!! or shall i say KRA-ZAY!!! IT MADE ME FORGETHOW TO PEE IT HURT DEEP MAN.WAYY DEEP.FOR ONLY 2 WEEKS THOUGH. THNX FOR HELPING ME DOCTOR RACHAEL.

sum1nilFebruary 25th, 2008 at 4:52 pm

I have had clinical depression for the last 20 years. I also have agoraphobia. I have some asperger traits.
The question I wanted to ask is from this post:

on 11 Oct 2007 at 10:54 am dinah said:
In 2003,I had only seven ECT “sessions” at $3,000 a zap! I have lost much of my long term memory. I am cognitively impaired. I feel like a stranger in the same body.

The question is about being a stranger in your own body. I want the death, not physical suicide, but the death of my personality. That would be ideal.

My question on the memory loss is to know if it only effects currently stored memories and not the formation of new memories. I would have no problem in losing any or all past memories. I have not had a life worth remembering. I have no dependents or a spouse to worry about forgetting. I am absolutely alone.

The question about the cognitive impairment is it would seem to me that a “scramble” of the neuronal connections, which I presume ECT would cause, would be corrected over time as the brain relearns new knowledge/skill. Also, is their any relation between traditionally measured IQ and the amount of cognitive impairment and the ease in which it alleviates.
Thank you for your time.

ninuccioFebruary 26th, 2008 at 12:15 am

My question on the memory loss is to know if it only effects currently stored memories and not the formation of new memories. I would have no problem in losing any or all past memories. I have not had a life worth remembering. I have no dependents or a spouse to worry about forgetting. I am absolutely alone.

Answer: Electricity to your skull will cause different side effects…(as they call them). I call them damages. The only way to understand these damages is to subject yourself to proper assistance. This assistance I am talking about is given in the Rusk Institute in Manhattan. A top rehabilitative place in Manhattan. It will give you neuropscyhological testing to begin with. You will notice many people with shock damage stop at that…Yet in the Rusk they begin with that. Properly given in many,many tests. Weeks to do so. After which you then begin you cognitive remediation classes whereby a poster is placed across from you with the symptoms acquired from your testing. You will have approximately 6 people in your group. The exercises which will be done will bring our your OTHER deficits which the neurosych…test cannot pick out. You will find that from a few symptoms you chart will fill up to approximately 6 to 7 symptoms. Not only will it fill out with these symptoms but you will learn as the classes progress how they effect you life. You will be able to make distinctions between your symptoms. Case in point. I realized after a while that what I thought was a short term memory loss was a distractibility symptom effecting me. In other words I could not remember something not because I had lost it in my memory…but because I had been distracted by other symptoms not allowing my memory to ever be recorded. THAT is why cognitive remediation is necessary for all…Ninuccio.

The question about the cognitive impairment is it would seem to me that a “scramble” of the neuronal connections, which I presume ECT would cause, would be corrected over time as the brain relearns new knowledge/skill.
Answer: Once the damage is caused that particular part of the brain is gone. However other parts will pick up and you may need to understand what is not working anymore and how to compensate for it. Simple as that. Taking notes is one way. But you will need to understand the extent of your memory difficulties before you can take appropriate notes. The Rusk will teach you what notes to take. How to take them. When to review them. Simple as that. Once the brain is damaged…it is damaged. The best you can do is to understand the full extent of your damage…and not by a clinical psychologist…but by “cognitive remediation” classes which can and will bring you face to face with your injury…Ninuccio.

sum1nilFebruary 27th, 2008 at 11:06 am

In further thought perhaps the risks are not worth the gain if only because I have had success, at least temporarily in the past, with medicine. It is just so discouraging to keep having these rounds of depression.
I appreciate ninuccio’s discussion. The mere fact that a reputable place prepares one for such dramatic memory loss is discouraging.
I would like to thank ninuccio, the site, and other websites of information that have helped me to reconsider ECT and look once again to medicine, if only for temporary relief.
Thank you for your time.

ninuccioFebruary 28th, 2008 at 3:00 pm

sun1nil-today, I live with a computer. I cannot live otherwise. When I finally in rehabilitation 1991-95. This was 15 years after my injury. I was finally rehabilitated by a treatment called cognitive remediaiton…(which no one seems to know about). yet that is the treatment for anyone who has sustained any type of head injury. Dr. Stanley Stellar was the doctor who injured me first. Lied and washed his hands. I was a goner already. Then Dr. Lother Kalinowsky right here in Manhattan got his hands on me. Destroyed me. Washed his hands. Apparently he had the opportunity to lie on very important papers…and he did with no problems at all. Even after many years that my mother was alive and papers were able to be made he was on my lawsuit papers. The papers never made it to court. HE had never been taken to court. That’s just to tell you how negligent the medical system can be.I AM SURE A LOT OF GREAT THINGS happen out there. There must be many good doctors. The problem is these doctors who simply, legally murdered me…and took off. They were never touched even after my injury had to finally be acknowledged…and it had been caused by the nerusourgeries and shocks. Also as far as rehabilitation. The systems out there assisting for the fees required to get into proper rehabilitative establishments didn’t do it for 12 years and when it finally did refused to assist me with a computer…which I use daily…for all of my activities due to my brain damage. So, whoever, comes on this site. Do hear this story. It will give a much better insight into a system that is pretty much devised to assist…and will…unless you have no memory…then you will fall (and this is none of their fault) into its negligence. I have been lucky and yet I still don’t see anyone aware of cognitive remediation…the answer to my head injuries and all who receive it…Ninuccio.

JeremyMarch 4th, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Please tell me SOMEONE actually looked at the actual scientific article. It’s free on the internet, go read it yourself. It has been ENTIRELY misrepresented in this article. Though it shows that certain types of ECT (ie sine wave ECT, which is rarely used now adays) can have long term repercussions, but most of the “cognitive defecits”, especially with more recent techniques, resolved by the 6 month followup (except the amnesia, which was already known as a potential long term side effect). Nothing is new in this article. There are no LONG TERM cognitive deficits shown in the article, except with use of sine wave ECT.

Like surgery, ECT should never be taken lightly, and full disclosure is needed, but it is a needed option for some.

NinuccioMarch 5th, 2008 at 12:10 am

…most of the “cognitive defecits”, especially with more recent techniques, resolved by the 6 month followup…
Mr. Jeremy…I have not looked at the article. Or better yet I may have looked at it…but simply don’t remember doing so. But here again I have rehabilitated from severe damages caused…by what I am sure the article says is safe…So,even though I may have not read it…how truthful could this article possibly be…UNLESS…it would give the pros and the cons on ECT. Maybe it should be followed up by some articles on some people who were injured…LIKE ME. I live my life under a long term, short term memory loss, a disorientation in time and date, a memory dejavu,focusing what is said,time and place disorientation, impaired insight and judgement,distractibility,emotional gaiting and a right hemiparesis.
Actually this is the last portrayal of my ECT. It had changed continuously.
These are going to be lifelong injuries. I have actually been rehabilitated to understand my injuries. MOST…are not.
So, I am very glad, you liked the article you read about ECT. but I am sure you did not read its possible negative effects…and you couldn’t have. Since my situation never made it to court this can only be published on sites like this one.

TraceyMarch 12th, 2008 at 7:11 am

I had three ECT’s in September 2007 and since I had such a fantastic response to them, my mood lifted incredibly, I felt the very minimal memory loss I experienced at that time was worth it. However, due to severe depression coming back I had another 15 ECT’s over the last few months and the momory loss and cognitive changes, and even changes to my character and personality has occurred as a result of the treatments, I have no doubt that ECT can be a lifesaver for some but a lifechanger in a negative way for others, and I have some regret that I underwent them (again, my mood has improved) and do not plan to undergo the treatments ever again.

NinuccioMarch 29th, 2008 at 2:04 pm

The only scientific article is people’s insights given through experience. THIS IS WHAT THIS SIGHT DOES. Injuries caused by shocks are not published anywhere. They are simply not allowed to be published. How could they be allowed to be publish and tarnish our “medical system”. And even if someone would dispute this article written by a top doctor trying to stop these quacks. Top meaning he has gone through all the training and research and backs up his oponion by facts.The very fact that some top doctor is saying the contrary of what another top doctor is saying should be cause enough to give you some thought. A privildge you still have since electricity has not numbed it in your brain.

Mike ConditMay 28th, 2008 at 9:18 pm

Before ECT my depression had completely taken over my life. If I was awake and not eating or sitting on the toilet I was on my hands and knees staring at the carpet. There was no response to any medication or other therapy. Suicide was not just an ideation, it had become a necessity.

So off to ECT. I must say that I am very grateful to have had it as I now live without depression as long as I am medicated, and I never miss my meds. I will not ever complain that I had ECT; it definitely saved my life.

But life is different now.

I had twelve sessions of ECT a little over two years ago and can say my mental condition has improved over time. Not only do I now know where
Walmart is, I also know what it is, and if I do not get on the freeway going the wrong way I will eventually arrive there. However, I did not remember this stuff. I had to relearn it all.

I am amused by one post which said that, OK, the memory loss is is still bad, but there is no cognitive impairment.

The problem is that when you cannot remember what you did a minute ago how can you begin to display decent cognitive function. How can you focus on anything, form decent judgments, interpret information or read anything more difficult than, “Look Sally, see Dick run.”

An example: As someone who relied on math all my life I used to multiply three digit numbers mentally to stay sharp. Now I need a calculator to add single digits.

Another: I used to spell quite well. People checked spellings with me quite often. Now as I type this and misspell a word I cannot go to Dictionary.com in another tab and back to this tab and still remember how to spell the word. Fortunately, a friend, bless her patience, taught me that if I cut and paste from the other tab into this one I can accomplish my goal.

One more. No, really, just one: Pre-ECT this post would have been a ten or fifteen minute task. Now, although I enjoyed writing it more than I would have then, it did take almost two hours to write.

So there is a lot of downside to ECT, but if it is your only way out, I highly recommend it. I am a much simpler person now leading a much simpler life.

And I am happy for the first time in sixty years.

AmyJune 13th, 2008 at 1:14 pm

My mom is currently in the psychiatric ward of one of the best hospitals in the country. She has suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder her whole life. Anxiety from improbable negative scenarios (ie you can’t go camping because you might get bit by a racoon and get rabies and die, wash your hands after petting the dog because he’s been outside where there are squirrels and they might have rabies and you’ll die) have alawys impaired her quality of life. She was able to hide it and make choices that caused her less anxiety. She was always somewhat sarcastic and negative but was considered by most of us “a little neurotic with a dry sense of humor.”

For the last 5 years she has been suffering from depression. After the first year, she seemed to get slightly better with medication, but about 2 years ago she starting spiraling downwards into Major Depressive Disorder. None of the many combinations of medications improved her situation. Finally in the last couple months she has been stuck in these obsessive cycles of thought all day long. Whatever she is fixated on, there is no talking her out of it, not even for a moment to stop and comment on the weather. No matter what topic is brought up, within about 5-7 seconds, it returns to the obsession at hand. When she started to become unsure whether she had been in car accidents (yes, plural), and was certain she was either going to jail or dying, she agreed to be hospitalized.

She has been hospitalized for 10 days. Since then she has shown no real improvement. She is sure she is dying. She talks in circles about whether she is urinating too much/not enough and both must mean she is dying. She draws odd conclusions and doesn’t understand even basic things like being able to operate the washing machine for the patients to use (she has been a homemaker her whole life – she knows how to use a washing machine). She doesn’t want to ask how to use the washing machine because she’s afraid it’ll be a “black mark” against her and she’ll never get out of the hospital. Right now she cannot function enough to take care of herself or even allow us to care for her outside of a hospital.

She has all of these cognitive problems and has NOT had ECT yet at this point.

Her doctor recommended yesterday that she have ECT. The possible side effects are scary, yes. But even what most of you are describing above seems like a much better quality of life than what my mother has been experiencing for the last couple years, especially the last couple of months. I fear that if she does not choose ECT that she may go months or even years without signifigant improvement. Has anyone else had or seem similar symptoms? Was there an equally viable option to try that was effective? Do we just keep going and hope that sometime soon she just “snaps out of it”? Or can it be said that maybe the potential benefits would outweigh the potential risks?

ninuccioJune 19th, 2008 at 10:39 am

Sometimes after all other treatments have been tried ECT. may be the route to go…BUT…be aware of one thing. ECT. had destroyed many lives. Mine being one of them. ECT. can cause and does cause severe cognitive difficulties. Now from what I read your mom seems to be in not very good shape…however…the people who hurt me and many others easily lied on the papers. The consent forms were vague. Once the damages caused they are extremely difficult to then diagnose. SO, if you feel your mom had had all possible treatments and now ECT. may be the route. MAKE sure it is given in a top medical place. Make sure you check out the doctor. Make sure he is well accredited for performing this before. MAKE sure she received neuropsychological testing prior to the ECTs. and then after. If they are not going to do this get away from these doctors and go somewhere else. Keep a close eye. When I was receiving my ECT.s they were begun without consent. When I had called my mother and ex-wife they had trust in the doctor. This guy polished me off. I came out of there like a zombie. My eyes glassy. It took approximately 16 years for me to rehabilitate to understand the full potential of my injuries. 16 long years. 16 lonely years. Wife divorced me…mother died…friends gone…and no potential friends to be made. Keep an eye on these folks…close eye…Ninuccio.

JohnnyJune 26th, 2008 at 3:58 pm

I have a 2-3 year gap in my memory from age 7 to 9 – I cn recall absolutly nothing! I can recall being quite smart when I was younger. From 9 to 12 I was bottom of the class, in a kind of fog, but it didnt seem to bother me. I improved afterwards, but never had any ambitions/goals and didnt seem to have any self worth. I drank a lot over the years. I am now dry. I only recently became concious of those missing years! – I’m now 55 years.
I’ve no recolection of having ECT. Nobody ever told me what happened.
Is there a way of finding out if I had ECT – some sort of scan that would show it up. I dont think I had any major head trauma.

BeckyJuly 14th, 2008 at 5:13 pm

I have been on SSRI’s and Lamictal (an anti-convulsant, I think)for depression for about 13 years. A few months ago I started tapering off. I’m still taking 50mg of Lamictal because the withdrawal is bad. The reason I am writing here is; I’m just starting to realize the severity of the negative effects on my brain this has had.
One being, I have practically no memory of raising my kids (or much of my life at all). My kids are 18 & 16, it’s not like it was a long time ago. I started looking up amnesia and what could cause it and found ECT. I believe all these psychiatric drugs are having the same “unknown effects” on the brain as ECT, only slower.

I can totally relate to what you said;
“16 lonely years. friends gone…and no potential friends to be made”.
I’m sorry.
Can’t really explain how/why that made perfect sense to me, but I know exactly what you mean.

LauraJuly 21st, 2008 at 10:30 am

I completely agree about the psychiatric drugs. When I was young, I was the top of my class smartest kid in the room. Since I have started on the antidepressants and antipsychotics and stimulants and all, I cannot do the same things I could then. I am about to graduate college and feel like I have learned nothing! Most of the time I even forget to eat. I dont get hungry, I’m still depressed and I’m still having mood swings. I have considered ECT but it doesnt sound any better than what I am going through now. I was sexually assaulted for 21 and a half years of my life. I turn 22 in september. I dont remember my childhood or even more so the years since I started medications. I cannot do the same math skills I could do in even elementary school. I feel like my brain is rotting! Is ECT any better than the medications? I feel like I’m going through the same things you all are.

MichelleAugust 5th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

How on earth do some of these people with
severe depression go to school,get college
degrees,do soduko,set goals,have friends,
cook,read and many other things I’ve read
in these postings.I can’t even imagine.
I breath in and breath out, thats about it.

BeckyAugust 5th, 2008 at 6:48 pm

I know what you mean. I’m barely keeping a job. I have no friends, no social life, as for goals, I’ve had some goals but I forget them and when I remember years later, I’ve taken no steps towards them. I’ve just been “breathing in and out”. That’s a perfect way to describe it because I don’t know what I’ve done with my life. People say, “you’ve been raising your kids…” No, my kids are growing up because they were born and that’s what happens whether I’m a good parent or not.

I am so sorry for what you’ve gone through and are going through. I didn’t even (and still don’t)know what to say about your situation. I can’t imagine dealing with all of that. I think Michelle agrees in being in awe of your accomplishments. If I may suggest; Read one of Dr. Peter Breggin’s books (I’m on my 3rd) The 1st one I read was “Your drug may be your problem”. I can’t tell you how much useful information is in there. It’s not only the scientific info that amazed me but also his empathy. He has a lot of stories about patients and you can tell he actually listened and understood them and then actually helped them. http://www.breggin.com/

JeanAugust 28th, 2008 at 10:44 am

I had 11 ECTs in 1964-1965…..I am 58 years old. I was 14-15 years old at the time. I have had a fairly successful life, although I suffered and still suffer from cognitive disfunction, memory loss of much of my childhood, and now have relaping remitting MS for the past 28 years. I am convinced it is a barbaric treatment, despite memory loss I do remember going into one treatment and the guard put in my mouth, the headache afterwards, and being promised unless I got my act together, I would have more. I was smart enough to act just fine in order to get out. I do suffer from anxiety attacks, am very untrusting of medical doctors and although I manage through life and am a professional person, I hide deeply the fact I ever had ETCs. There is not only the life long effects, but the trauma associated with it, and the stigma towards people who have been “locked up”. I was severely depressed. When I switched to naturopathic medicine 13 years ago, it was discovered I was severely deficient in magnesium and my natural lithium level was zero. I take all natural meds and have benefited greatly from that. I was also found to have off the chart mercury poisoning and arsenic poisioning. As a child and teenager, this could have been easily the problems I was having and was misdiagnosed by MDs as a mental problem when actually the depression and anxiety are prominant effects of all the naturopathic physicians found in testing. I would completely discourage anyone from having ETCs…first and formost, go to a naturopathic physician who has graduated from an accredited college and spend the money and be tested completely. I also had a growth in my thyroid, which probably happened in mid-life….but the MDs I was treated by until I was 45 missed that also. Please….try naturopathic medicine. It saved my life and I am up walking around, working and doing my very best with life. I am a mother and grandmother…and life is good…but could have been a lot better without ETCs and the appropriate treatment and testing when I was 14.

SheilaAugust 29th, 2008 at 7:02 am

I have had over 200 ECT’s IN a 2-3 year period (I CAN’T REMEMBER the exact timeframe without going through my medical records).

My ECT’s were originally started because of severe depression (I am bipolar) and numerous hospitalizations. My medication and hospitalizations did not help enough. The results of my first few ECT’s were helpful. They pulled me out of my deep depression and feelings of suicide. However, my doctor continued giving me ECT’s just because I felt blue at times (which was usually circumstantial). It was easier for my doctor to cover up my feelings and give me an ECT and not have to deal with the reasons for my depression.

Many times I questioned the number of ECT’s I was having but was always reassured by my doctor that I was improving. Also, the patients I met while waiting for my ECT had also had as many or more ECT’s that me.

I trusted my psychiatrist completely and was devistated and angry to learn of his negligence and lack of concern for me.

The results for my ECT’s were: Almost total memory loss. I can’t remember my daughter’s childhood, my friends, my previous marriage and divorce, major events in my life, the reason for my divorce, my honeymoon, the earlier years of my marriage, moving to Minneapolis, previous jobs and my skills…My career is over and I am working part-time at a low-stress, low-performance job. I am on permanent disability.

The ECT’s helped only for a short time and I would need another and another and another to maintain my mental health.

I would only recommend a FEW ECT’s if required on a crisis basis. Any more ECT’s cause severe loss of memory and a loss of ones previous life.

I had three episodes during ECT’s where I temporarily stopped breathing; one where my blood pressure dropped to 90/60; and another where I contracted a very serious, life threatening staff infection due to staff’s poor hygiene (no rubber gloves were worn). The hospital staff was running around screaming and in a panic. I was awake during this time. As a matter of fact, I was awake one time during an ECT which was a nightmare for me.

ECT’s are a temporary fix which erases your memory. I believe one must face their past in order to deal with and overcome it.

Please be VERY cautious when considering an ECT and pray a lot before making a decision.


JeanAugust 29th, 2008 at 11:03 pm

For me, a malpractice suit would be unlikely…I am sure there is a time limit on such things and my situation was over 40 years ago. The Dr. that did this, seemed to prefer to do ECTs on all of his patients. That would be a documented fact. Actually, in 1969 a psychologist brought him before the medical board with a charge of medical child abuse using my records. It went no where.

NinuccioAugust 30th, 2008 at 3:59 am

Lawsuits are highly unlikely. These doctors are so well shielded and protected behind their title and within their own peer groups. To the point that they have no fear or retribution by the legal system. Strong words maybe…but… 1) Subjecting the patient to controversial and potentially damaging electroshock
without informed consent. 2) When the patient’s brain function was already impaired, subjecting the patient to another
brain disabling treatment in the form of electroshock.
3) When the patient suffered from an extreme reaction to electroshock, continuing
with the treatment. 4) Failing to inform the patient and family that malpractice had been committed by Dr. xxxxxx 5) Failing to inform the patient and family that the patient would never recover from the brain damage inflicted by the psychosurgery and compounded by the electroshock.
6) Giving electroshock to on obviously incompetent patient with no legal guardian, and therefore without consent. 7) Inappropriately prescribing electroshock for a patient in whom it was unwarranted.
When many years later by some stroke of luck i had finally begun receiving assistance for this buthchering when no advocacy had been given after the shocks. I was in the Rusk Institute with a treatment that was finally bringing out the intricate injuries. After three years i was followed up by a doctor not far from the Rusk. After a few years I was sent back to the Rusk for assessment. Could not enter the Rusk because I owed money. Was thus sent to see the doctor from the Rusk in Bellevue. As I got there, he wasn’t there. Saw another doctor. I explained to him why I was there. He told me he would be taking care of the situation today…”why was i there”. Explained to him I had been in the Rusk taking cognitive remediation. He stops me and asks me…what’s that? He, however,listened attentively as I explained to him how the treatment worked. Then I was sent to the counselor there and given an appointment for neuropsychological testing somewhere in manhattan.At a later date went to the testing and my injury was diagnosed as a short term memory loss. I said fine…then I presented my index card, I always carry, that shows my true injury, diagnosed by 3 years of cognitive remediation in the Rusk. It had eight symptoms on it…
lawsuits are rare indeed. you an see why…even with all this beating nothing was done.
Even if it happened in new york city, nothing was done. Even, as it was found out i had a business administration degree and not a high school dropout…nothing was ever done…good luck with yours…ninuccio.

kiddydocSeptember 17th, 2008 at 3:28 am

Hello. I am a medical doctor from an asian country and I came upon this post because I am searching everything for the side effects of ECT.

My brother, who is also a medical doctor have been diagnosed with bi-polar illness since he was in Medical school. He’s now 43 years old, married also to a medical doctor, with kids aging 15,8, and 5. He has been on off medications since I can remember. Although he was highly intelligent, we had a lot of problems, and he was always in trouble in between bouts of depression. In retrospect, I think this started way back in highschool, but we just dealt with it with understanding and family support.

The medications sort ot helped him during bouts of depressions, but the rest was hell for our family and his if he’s on his “manic moods”. He’s ill tempered and troubles abound. He will always have fights, sometimes ending with lawsuits. There are times me and his wife preferred that he be in his depressive moods, because we are free from all the troubles he brings.

About 8 months ago, he went to depression after a car accident on his own doing. He was extremely happy that time before the accident, on anti-depressant medications, thus he went out everyday, neglected his family, go home shouting at everyone on sight, not sleeping adequately. His depression spiraled down to major depression after the incident. He doesn’t eat much, refuses showers and started to show feeling of hopelessness. The medications were changed, adjusted to no avail. He needed constant care, and often he summoned me or his wife to go home to see him while we see patients in our clinics. He always talked to me about how he cannot take it anymore, and he wants to be treated. Constant threat of suicide agitated all of us. It affected everyone, me, his wife, our work, my parents, his kids. Until we decided the last option, ECT, as suggested by his psychiatrist.

He was admitted for 2 weeks and had 6 ECT sessions. And we were completely unprepared for the memory loss he exhibited. He just came home 3 days ago. We are all there for support, telling him stories of things lost in his memory. He cannot recall being brought to the hospital for treatment and consenting for the first ECT, but he remembers the subsequent ECTs. His wife and me are scared for the long term effects of the ECT. We know of the possibilities, but the severity? It’s case to case basis we do understand, and for now, we just have to wait and give him support.

For you people so vehemently opposed to ECT: “Do you think he should have not underwent the procedure?” To the patients here who claims they underwent hell because of ECT: “Do you also consider the Hell of Life you have brought upon to family and people who love you?” Psychiatric illness not only affect oneself, but also the people surrounding you. Imagine the trauma also to his kids, that they are already beginning to show hatred to their dad. I just wished I have recorded everything in video, his manic episodes and depression resulting to physical and psychological harm to everybody. So when the time comes he started to complain and threaten to sue his doctors about his memory and cognitive loss, I can show him his life he so wanted to maintain before ECT.

He is lucky though. We still all love him despite of everything, and even how difficult, will try to understand and give support.

SheilaSeptember 17th, 2008 at 11:44 am

Dear kiddydoc,
I can only imagine what a family must go through with a family member that is bipolar. I see the suffering in my daughter’s eyes when she talks about her childhood, even later years, and I have no memory. I ask family members and friends to help me put the puzzle pieces together, but they can only do so much.

You can read my article that I submitted earlier and read some of my history.

I will just briefly say that no one can comprehend what it is like to be bipolar…none of it makes sense to someone who hasn’t had the disease and cannot empathise. I have lived in hell most of my life from bipolar and sexual abuse as a child and spousal abuse later.

I have been in every mental hospital in metro Atlanta, mostly long-term stays. I almost died from anorexia in the ’80′s and still struggle daily with that.

I am 55 and have had over 200′s ECT’s (unbelieveable!) and they were a last resort for me. Initially, the ECT’s were a gift from God…but after so many they didn’t seems to help. In fact, I became worse and stopped on my own.

I stayed out of mental hospitals for about 3 years, although I was suicidal MANY times.

Reading about your brother’s severe condition, I can only say that maybe a life without memory is better than a life full of pain…although ECT is not a cure.

I also suffer daily from a life-long disease with no cure. The pain and the depression feed upon each other.

I’m so sorry for all the pain your family has suffered and continue to suffer. I would also like to say to your brother than I can understand his pain and pray for peace for him.

Right now, the only peace I see is in dying. I know it is a selfish act but I can’t continue living this hell.

Peace and Faith.


NinuccioSeptember 17th, 2008 at 8:43 pm

To Kiddidock: “For you people so vehemently opposed to ECT: “Do you think he should have not underwent the procedure?” To the patients here who claims they underwent hell because of ECT: “Do you also consider the Hell of Life you have brought upon to family and people who love you?” Psychiatric illness not only affect oneself, but also the people surrounding you. Imagine the trauma also to his kids, that they are already beginning to show hatred to their dad. I just wished I have recorded everything in video, his manic episodes and depression resulting to physical and psychological harm to everybody. So when the time comes he started to complain and threaten to sue his doctors about his memory and cognitive loss, I can show him his life he so wanted to maintain before ECT..”
I think you miss a very important point to be made here. ECT’s are a last resort for some folks. No question of that. Don’t forget you are a layman. As competent as you may be in your life this is a world not very well understood. I have had to find all that was done to me. I pass the information out so that “others” can see the medical system is not all it’s cracked up to be. I make people aware…by displaying my injury…as to how inassistive many places are…so that they don’t waste their time in all the wrong places. ECT.is an asskicker. I also point out I live here in the Bronx of New York City. Even here I have continuously misdiagnosed. My true diagnosis was only made through three years of treatment by “cognitive remediation”. Also the doctors who injured me and almost took my life lied with no problems at all. That should open up your eyes also. My injuries happened in 1982. I was rehabilitated in 1991 to 95. I was made aware…since my injury had never been diagnosed by any “doctor” (and I use that term very loosely)…that my working days are over. It took me 16 years to find my heart…who had no choice but to divorce me many years ago. Now that your brother has had ECT.and as you should be aware ECT. will cause cognitive difficulties…then now…you should devote your time and attention not only in noticing that things are better…but finding the appropriate assistance for him…in ECT. discussion look at the site that reads “the place for rehabilitation”. It will show an eml.address of the Rusk Institute where the proper assistance will bring your brother face to face with his injuries. The assistance is called “cognitive remediaiton”. I have also passed on some very negative behaviours by the Rusk Institute in the way they simply don’t pass the information out. If you don’t go to them…they are definitely not going to look for you. Also the Rusk is very expensive therefore to get to it your brother would need insurance. Or here in New York City…(not very well known either by anyone)…there is a state agency called VESID. Vocational Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities that…if they take on your brother situation…and are aware enough to be careful as to where he is put for rehab. you may be able to get him admitted to the Rusk. THERE he will learn all of his cognitive skills…including his deficits and how to remediate them…so I am a guy who is not so much against ECT. I am simply against the legal murder committed on me many years ago and I have had to watch so many around me never been given advocacy to get to the Rusk. Its a must…Ninuccio.

tony catastrophySeptember 17th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

I would like to state that im just a psychology student in college and im doing an assignement on mental straightjacketing

I personally im opposed to ECT.

I also find it humorous that alot of people say how can you be opposed to ECT if you ask any patients to look back and see how miserable their lifes were then they would see how much its helped them…

Well for those of you who believe that, ill give you the pleasure of asking those patients that. But dont be surprised when they respond and tell you that they cant remmember those days, or any of the “happy” days previous to those.

richardSeptember 24th, 2008 at 11:23 am

I had ect and lost 7 months of memory.Iwould not recomend this treatment to anyone, like so many psychiatic procedures It damages the brain I have also been damged by neuroleptics and to some degree alcohol

ZoeOctober 27th, 2008 at 3:47 am

I have to decide whether to encourage my 66 yr old husband to have ECT as his psychiatrist reccommends. He has suffered with depression since 1978 and has been on ant-depressants all that time. The last 3 years have been hell as his depression has spiralled ompletely out of control and he knows he is dying. He does have some health issues that are not life-threatening but the anxiety over these are out of all proportion. He has now been in hospital for 3 months (the 3rd time in 3 years) on different medications and some behavoural therapy. He seems to cope quite well with being in hospital and I take him out for walks or to the cinema one day mid-week. BUT when he comes home every weekend he won’t go out without me almost forcing him to (he is slightly better when he does)and when he stays in he feels worse & worse. For the past 2 years he has had a horrible sense of taste and smell, so bad that he feels it afeects other people (no-one else can smell anything) All his food tastes rancid to him. This has caused the severe depression he is now in. Every medical test he has is normal and nothing can be found medically that is causing it. He has severe diverticular disease (diagnosed) But he says he has lost blood and there’s a huge problem with his heart, but all bllod tests are normal and ECG’s show a normal reading. It is so hard to live with and keep up a positive attitude towards him. Will ECT help? After reading all the postings on this forum I am no nearer an answer. He is on a low dose of an anti-psycotic drug as well as a low dos of anti-depressant. He has had many changes of drugs and also come of them, at his request, completely for 2 weeks. Nothing makes him feel better.
I feel so sorry for all the people on here that are suffering this terrible condition and the carers of them. It is so traumatic to see our loved ones going through this despair and feeling so helpless to make them better. I will never give up trying though. All of you sufferers and carers DON’T GIVE UP. Look around you and see the beautiful things in this world — and there are many. Life gives us these challenges and we have to do the best we can. God Bless you all

NinuccioOctober 27th, 2008 at 7:39 am

Zoe-You have read all these articles before. Some people are all for it. Some people severely injured. Your doctor recommends it? Well…I really don’t know what to say…EXCEPT…IF…you will subject your husband to ECT. learn all about it. I hope you have learned through a few of these articles the medical system knows how to bail out when things go wrong…and should something go wrong and it SHOULD BE ACKNOWLEDGED…(because the problem with ECT. is that its effects can only be properly diagnosed properly by neuropsych. and cogniitive remediation. Now if you had not heard of that before…then how much do you really know of ECT. potential damages. That is why I tell you to learn about ECT. prior to its administration. It needs to be given appropriately. Just want to mention as I tell you this it took 16 years before my damages were able to be acknowledged and the doctors having caused them…ALMOST…you notice I say ALMOST…taken to court. Lawsuits for head injury are very uncommon. Especially for a person in his later years. (I don’t mean to be rude by saying that…my mom recently died from wrong medications being given her in a top hospital in New York City and so far all the lawyers I have been too don’t want to deal with it because of her age…so I have experience with that). Also my damages from ECT. were caused right here in New York City…by a top doctor…in a top hospital. They took me out of circulation at my young age of 27. I am now 55…and have had to struggle just to stay alive…and will be disabled with a host of cognitive difficulties ONLY acknowledged by proper treatment. The lawyers told my mom, before she was killed also, that a severe injustice had been committed. So if this can be done to a relatively young man, in New York City. By probably the top doctor in shocks in New York City. Then you should be able to see that these bad doctors, that these bad outcomes, are easily shielded. Not even top lawyers realize at times they can do anything about it. ECT. is a last resort…if your husband has reached that part of his life where this is a possibility…and you are willing to give it a change…THEN…learn all you can learn. MAKE SURE…he receives NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING prior to his shocks. MAKE SURE…he receives it after his shocks. Make sure he is well monitored as he goes through this. Don’t forget…as I have experienced that ECT. may help him tremendously. Also be aware it may cause more damages then expected…damages that unless properly tested he may never be able to find out of…good luck in your quest. If you say YES…just make sure you are aware of the prerequisites…neuropsych. testing…and of the potential damages…Make sure your doctor is also aware of this…Ninuccio.

JamesOctober 28th, 2008 at 1:32 am

Zoe, It sounds as if your hubby has had every depression treatment available without acceptable results. Since one definition of insanity is to repeat something over and over expecting different results perhaps it is time to try something new. I was in the same boat as your husband with no way out except what I consider the last resort, ECT.

ECT saved my life by relieving my lifelong and life threatening depression. The price I paid was most of the side effects listed above by others.

I couldn’t dial the phone because I could not look at a phone number and then remember it by the time my eyes moved to the phone, even trying only one digit at a time. But now, two years later, I can handle this and many other things that were impossible without much difficulty. (Aricept, a drug for Alzheimers does help with the memory.)

However, I am cognitively impaired enough that I can no longer work. I am recovered enough though to lead a normal life. Although I am living on a small amount of money because of my forced early retirement I am happy and content. I no longer suffer from depression, although I still maintain on a low dose anti-deprssant, Lamictal.

Not to brag, just to report, I recovered on my own. It was tough, but doable. Therefore, since your hubby has the help of a loving, dedicated spouse the road back should be a lot easier for him.

It sounds as though he only has an existence. Hopefully ECT can give him back his life.

And for your therapy I suggest you read “A New Earth” by Eckhardt Tolle. This can help you now with your side effects of his depression.

Jane WestwoodNovember 17th, 2008 at 6:45 am

to cici and Tracey,

I,m not suprised that enforced ect is having so many later syptoms that can as ever be attributed to MH probs, not falidated etc etc.
also its so obvious who the bogus people are on this its untrue.

Jane WestwoodNovember 17th, 2008 at 6:47 am

Back in the 80,s when I was put on a section, several times and hounded by varous groups of professionals including a gynachologist none of this would have been beleived, it all runs pretty much like some cooked up novel, but quess what it was true all along. Why didnt they believe me back then? before so much damage was done to me!

Jane WestwoodNovember 17th, 2008 at 6:53 am

Why anyone would ever want ECT is beyond me

if they are so sure they want to forget something that much then ok I supose you would let them have it
after all they are adult enough to decide for themselves.

What makes me so angry is when people tell them, (professionals) they dont really want it and the response is so bad

hounded for months till you give in

now isnt that against the european charter or something like that!

JaneNovember 17th, 2008 at 7:39 am

ninuccio 19th June

its a huge decision, whats more important is that if there is cognitive remediation available for her, has she tried it before, this may be a more humane alternative

mariaNovember 19th, 2008 at 3:41 pm

This sounds absolutely terrifying. I stumbled upon this sight after googeling for some discussions on permanent cognitive damage after antidepressants. I was on a sedating antidepressant for 1.5 years, and now, 6 months after getting off I still suffer short-term memory loss, disorientation in time and space, some long term memory loss (my sister will talk about stuff we did 10 years ago and I have no recallection what so ever, and I used to have an unusually good memory for things I experienced). I also am working on my master’s in economics, and I just can not learn math anymore. I just can’t understand at all aspects of mathematical statistics and dynamic programming that I used to find very intuitive and clear. I just can’t make the connections. I am not sure I can ever finish my degree with this impairment. Also I used to be the most creative person, full of questions and ideas, and now I have nothing. Anyway, I am just begging for it to be restored, but I don’t see how that would work. I just can’t make connections anymore because I can only think in one dimenstion, whereas I used to be able to think in several… . This is horrifying!

I am wondering if in 20 years there will be discussions like these on damages from ECT but for SSRIs.

Can cognitive impairment improve with time?

NinuccioNovember 19th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

I don’t really know that. What I do know though is that cognitive impairment needs to be fully assessed. That is a huge problem without the proper assistance…and that’s the problem many get stuck with…Ninuccio

ninuccioNovember 21st, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Can cognitive impairment improve with time?
Just one other thing I think I should have discussed. Cognitive impairment can remain that…for the rest of your life…unless…you get to recognize its various complications in your brain. If it becomes troublesome…my suggestion would be of a “competent” cognitive remediation center where by an appropriate program your “whole” injury will be brought out. The program I attended in the Rusk Institute in Manhattan was appropriately structured…(neuropsych. testing. Cognitive remediation classes. DVE.program…Diagnositic Vocational Evaluation. WPAT.-Work and Personal Adjustment)…after all this a full evaluation will be in place and the doctors will call you into a meeting and discuss to you your full cognitive status and your potential in a work setting. It was this achievement of finally getting to this treatment…(3 years worth) that made me fully aware as to my head injuries. Thus I remained on SSDI.Social Security Disability Insurance…since I become aware of my “full potential” through the classes and realized the damage was even more than I had suspected…and that it would simply not go away. HOWEVER I thanked them tremendously for having made me aware of something I could have never become aware of on my own…Ninuccio.

AmyNovember 22nd, 2008 at 11:14 am

I’m wondering how much “damage” is actually caused by the depression itself (even before ECT treatments) vs teh ECT itself? There may be little way to prove this since researchers would be relying a lot on the information that the patient would be providing and depression taints the world in such a biased way.

I posted way up in this thread over the summer. My motehr was already having a lot of cognitive impairment prior to ever having ECT. It could have been the years of depression, her then almost catatonic state, the multiple medications she was on…..who knows? Since her 9 ECT treatments and medication adjustments, she is “better”. By better I mean that I am not constantly worrying whether she is a danger to herself, and she isn’t “trapped” in an obsessive cycle of frantically talking about the same 3 negative things that are all connected and nothing else. He is more relaxed and the smallest thing doesn’t send her into obsessive frantic mode. I would still say she is a shell of the person she once was, but that was true for the 2 years prior to the ECT. Here and there I’ve noticed her having slight memory problems, but I’d say they are more just “flighty” moments of forgetting that she already told me the same story. And the other day she told me she went to lunch at a restarant with her friend Jeannie that she actually went to with me, but when I reminder her, she said, “oh yeah, that’s right, Jeannie and I went to Strattons, not Crown Candy.” So she got a could details mixed up. She’s also 60 years old and folks I know that age (like my father) who have never had ECT sometimes have little moments like that too. I know that it may be years before (if ever) I know just how much ECT or other treatments may have helped or hurt my mother, but as I said way up in the thread, when you hope and pray every day that your loved one was even well enough to get on the computer, anything seems better and is worth considering. That’s not to discount anyone’s personal experiences. I am most of all sorry that you were so ill to begin with. Mental illness is horrible and one of the most challenging and heartbreaking things a person or a family can go though.

I pray for peace in all of our minds.

SheilaNovember 22nd, 2008 at 1:42 pm

This will be my last entry in my subscription which I will be cancelling. This is a wonderful informative site about ECT and its effects, but is too painful for me to read after having 200+ ECT’s over a period of about 3 years and suffering from memory loss, cognitive ability and other side effects. it is too painful for me to read how ECT has destroyed other lives.

In the beginning, ECT was a last resort and life saver for me. It offered me hope and kept me out of the hospital for years. However, after a series of ECT’s I feel I didn’t need any more or at least only as needed or as maintenance. Everytime I told my doctor I was depressed he said I needed ECT. I think ECT was a way to cover up my feelings which remained inside me and never went away until I faced my demons in therapy. But ECT’s saved my psychiatist from trying to help me and put lots of $$$ in his pocket!!!

After refusing more ECT’s amd changing psychiatrists, my life and condition improved.

EVERY doctor I have seen since having so many ECT’s have been SHOCKED hearing I had over 200 ECT’s and said that seemed like a case of malpractice and a way to put money in the doctor’s pocket. Everytime I had ECT, patients were lined up on cots like an assembly line waiting for their ECG. There was ALWAYS a FULL house.

I don’t remember my daughter’s childhood years, my wedding,and most other events in my life. My cognitive abilities and memory loss have put me on PERMANENT disability. I am bipolar and what has helped me the most is individual and group therapy and my medications.

PLEASE DO NOT HAVE ECT unless it is a LAST resort or you are already a ZOMBIE!!!

I pray that doctors will follow their hippocratic oath and do what is best for the patient instead of the $$$ they can make.

Sheila in Atlanta

PS I pray Dr Fieg*l reads these testimonies and has a spiritual awakening.

NinuccioNovember 22nd, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Sheila in Atlanta…you are doing the same thing I had done a while back. As I had entered the site and actually thought we would be talking about cognitive remediation in relation to ECT. and realized most people were not even aware of it. I passed information as to the place that finally rehabilitated me…beginning 11 years after my injuries…and realized as I was going through the treatment that awareness of rehabiliation which is befitting a head injured individual was not being given anywhere else. That psychiatric techniques were being used which were for the most part ineffective. Anyway…I don’t want to get into that right now. But when I spoke of this things some folks on this site came against me. I became very annoyed and decided I also didn’t want to deal with this anymore. THEN I realized something else. If I am aware of these things, and I pass the information on in this very informative group on shock’s after effects…and how they are, and could never be picked up without the proper testing…and for some ultimately remediation classes…If I pass this information on and I get out of this group. What is going to be left is the people who have benefited from ECT. and refuse to hear nothing from people like me who have been “legally taken out of action”, by ECT. It would not be fair unless the whole story is told. I,and yourself, have the other parts just as important…if not more important…for people to hear. I came back in the group with the realization that I simply needed to be here. I have been told by some folks that I repeat myself. What is repetition when new people get on this site on a daily basis and need to hear things which I may have said maybe a few weeks ago. Then the realization came to me that this is a group for everyone. Different individualities, different people. Some who may have had their memories impaired by ECT. and not even aware of that…who may be in denial. These very folks will go against advice…openly…confronting me, and you, if you are doing the same thing…but in actuality hearing and paying attention to something they had really not wanted to hear. I hope you understand what I am saying. I really don’t believe you should leave. This ECT. problem is worldwide. These bad doctor are allowed to do this and get away with it everywhere. We need to be out there passing the message to others that ECT. at a certain time in our lives may be an appropriate intervention…if everything else has failed. But it would need to be closely monitored and its effects would need to be properly assessed and passed on. That with the crap that’s out there is almost impossible. Yet people need to be there to make others aware. Even if they disagree…at least they have heard it…and believe me I am sure this information and this new fear will be instilled in their subconscious…Ninuccio.

JaneNovember 24th, 2008 at 9:40 am


Yes it can. What helped me even more than to keep on challenging my self with education and other type of work was the good old medictaion.

I must admit at first I was more than a little scheptible at times but with persistance and over the years I am gradually reclaiming those parts of me that were lost. Dont get me wrong I still have my bad days but over all the future looks a lot brighter than it used to

IanDecember 8th, 2008 at 7:06 pm

I am being told by my doctor that I need this therapy but after reading these posts I am not convinced.

IanDecember 8th, 2008 at 7:07 pm

I have been signed up to start this therapy but now I am scared from reading these comments.

NinuccioDecember 8th, 2008 at 10:26 pm

Ian, you have read many what you can classify as complaints as they are coming from people who have been injured. You have also read the article about ECT. causing cognitive deficits. That you can easily say is an awareness. Therefore maybe you can read the complaints over. Utilize that awareness by the article and maybe…just maybe…give those complaints some credence. Anyway. I was injured at the tender age of 27. I am now 55. Barely made it…and just because my mother was alive I was able to survive. I was a college student. I underwent two procedures. Neurosurgery…which impaired my memory. The doctor…top doctor…top medical establishment…easily lied on my dismissal papers. My injury from back there became a paranoid schitzophrenia. When I was taken to the doctor in Manhattan. He finally made some papers favoring disability. He also, without consent…(I was not in very good condition and he knew that). Had me admitted to a hospital in Manhattan. Bombarded me with shocks. When I had an adverse reaction (all this from my papers…I am glad I am not able to remember this…but I know it must have been horrible)…to the shocks he continued. I had become a zombie. Now this murderer was not acknowledged nor stopped at those particular times…in the early 80′s. And this doctor(Harold Sackeim) making the report…was probably just beginning his practice. I was injured in 1982. It was finally admitted in 2007-8(?). You can see you can give no trust to these people. Today I live in the Bronx of New York City. Noone is even aware of head injuries caused by shocks. I need to show papers that mention a treatment no one recognizes. Its a mess out there. So much of a mess that when I was last tested by neuropsychological testing I was told of a short term memory loss. My true injury is the cognitive classes received a few years earlier. Here is my injury. Long term memory loss, short term memory loss, focusing what is said problems,memory dejavu, time and place disorientation, impaired insight and judgement, distractibility, emotional gaiting…and a physical hemiparesis, probably caused by the neurosurgeries on my right hand side. So, should you sustain injuries, chances are you may never be made aware of your damages…Ninuccio…PS. My rehabiliation cost 94thousand dollars from VESID…(Vocational Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities). I asked my rehabilitative team for a computer since I cannot write, and I need to keep notes together. It…immensely necessary…was never given to me. I had to purchase one on my own…I had to relearn how to type on my own…and today I need to utilize it continuously. You see, should you get injured, all the problems along the way to rehabilitation…Ninuccio.

IanDecember 9th, 2008 at 1:37 pm


Thanks or the response, sounds like your life has been turned into hell, I
am sorry to hear your grief. I am still not sure which way to go, I am drug
resistant and they tell me this is the end of the road and that I need ECT.

NinuccioDecember 9th, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Ian, I am not totally against ECT. I am against doctor who are easily able to bail out once ECT. injures. My suggestion is to first of all realize the medical system is not its cracked up to be. If this is what you say is the end of the road…1st. make sure that statement is correct…then make sure that if you jump into ECT. you will need to first of all get proper neuropsychological testing. That’s #1. If that is not done…then you already know these people may not be too reputable. You may try somewhere else. If that is given. Make sure it is given to you in a combination of many tests. Not in one day…but in a combination of many tests to establish a “cognitive setting”. Make sure you check out the doctor…however…let me tell you. Dr. Kalinowsky was a top doctor in shocks. He had written on it many times. I read some of his literature and it made sense…HOWEVER…this old quack went against everything he had written. So be aware of this too. Teach all this to someone close to you who is able to understand it. Then deal with the shocks. Make sure…after the shocks you are tested again…(remember the neuropsychological testing you had before). Don’t forget they may ameliorate something by destroying something else. So make sure the testing is proper. Also make sure on your consent forms that you read them verbatum…word for word. Make sure there is no ambiguous meanings in them. Just be careful. Looking back at my particular situation of what 1)-I may have done wrong…and 2)-what the doctor did wrong. My biggest mistake is having had trust. That did me in. With that in mind I did not check out the potential for damages…simply because I was counselled there by top doctors. I was in a top hospital in New Jersey. Everything seemed ok. That was my first injury by neurosurgeries. The injuries caused then were never diagnosed. With the next doctor…the shock doctor. Lied on all my papers. Therefore by my particular situation make sure you are fully aware of what is happening at all times…and have someone know what the next procedure should be…just be careful. I may have been the only one injured in this way…I am sure many shocks do provide assistance. Just make sure you don’t end up in my situation. Also…and write this down just in case…if you should sustain injuries a program of “cognitive remediation” should be able to rehabilitate you…(you will find this information by looking through my files on this site)…I wish you the best…Ninuccio

BeckyDecember 9th, 2008 at 5:42 pm

The people who are telling you, “this is the end of the road” and you “NEED ECT” stand to gain financially from your receiving it. I would not trust them. Go to: http://www.breggin.com
I have read three of Dr. Breggin’s books. “Your drug may be your problem” was the easiest to understand and includes a chapter on ECT but there are others that might have more. There’s also reports and other info directly on the site. I didn’t have ECT, I was on psychiatric medications for 13+ years (also labeled “drug resistant”). I trusted the doctor and am still suffering the consequences.
Take care.

Michael BFebruary 5th, 2009 at 4:19 am

My wife is in her 40s and she has been suffering from anxiety, depression, low self esteem, low self confidence, hyper sensitivity, and a few other symptoms for at least 10 years and maybe longer. Over the past 6 years she has been treated by at least 5 different psychiatrists and just as many psychologists or therapists. They have tried dozens of medicines at various doses and combinations, individual and group therapies, hypnotism, self help books, and other treatment methods yet her symptoms have persisted and are progressively worsening. She attempted suicide twice during the last year and was hospitalized once for several weeks. She changed jobs often and eventually quit working which is ok because we can get by financially, yet she is not happy to stay at home. In an attempt to support and ease her symptoms we have gone on many vacations, visited family, spent more quality time together, and she has tried many different hobbies however she is no longer able to enjoy anything at all, even things which she loved just 6 months ago. When you read the definition of major depression it fits her like a glove.

Out of desperation and frustration we recently switched to yet another psychiatrist and he mentioned the option of ECT. He doesn’t do it and is not pushing for or against it, although he did say that some of his patients have it and almost all have reported that it helps them with only mild side effects that typically go away within 3-6 months. We expressed interest in learning more so he recommended a local hospital that offers ECT. This is a major hospital and supposedly one of the best for ECT in our half of the country. We called for an evaluation appointment and they gave us a list of at least a dozen psychiatrists which perform ECT at their facility. We checked them all out and most had no reviews or a few bad reviews online. Only one had many very positive reviews online so we made an appointment with her.

We just got back from the first evaluation with the ECT doctor. She explained all of the risks and side effects which are mentioned on this site. We talked for about an hour and she answered all of our questions. My wife decided to go ahead with it so they sent us to the hospital for pre-admission screening. At the hospital they showed us a 30 min. CAPS ECT video which basically recapped what the doctor said and reinforced what we were able to learn online. It painted ECT in a positive light but also mentioned the risks and side effects. The overall impression painted by the doctor/hospital/online info is that roughly 70-80% of ECT patients report success, and of those approximately 5-10% require maintenance ECT. The remaining 20% of ECT patients report no improvement. This doctor does not do ECT exclusively but she does it pretty often and said that it generally works and the side effects are mostly temporary unless you are in the minority group that experience some of the risks.

I have read a lot of info on this site and find it helpful however I have the following questions / observations:

1 – It is human nature that 90-95% people that are pleased with something do not do anything to follow-up. They don’t search out forums or self-help sites to post their experiences, they don’t post reviews of the doctors and facilities, they don’t research it to death, they don’t file lawsuits, they don’t sponsor or participate in surveys or studies, they don’t demand to speak with a manager, they don’t tell all their friends, they don’t do or say much at all. They just go on with their lives happily and with good result.

2 – It is also human nature that of the other 5-10% of people which were unhappy or that had a bad experience with something, most of these people will still not follow-up, they just simply go away mad, discontinue treatment, change doctors, etc. and remain silent about their experience, never sharing their gripes or complaints with anyone.

Considering items 1 & 2, you need to remember that when you find a site like this which is primarily designed to be critical of a particular topic or scenario, that it will serve as a magnet for all those in the first minority group which had bad experiences and that were also in the second minority grop which were motivated enough to act on their frustrations by sharing with others and actively pursuing the cause. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with this site or the critical focus at all. People need to hear and see the downside, the risks, the horror stories, the hidden facts, the under-published research, etc. But one must remember that this is still primarily the minority group and that the “silent majority” group is indeed out there but they just don’t have a reason or significant motivation to be vocal or share their success.

Now of course there is always a chance that a true epidemic exists where the topic or scenario is in fact largely bad, and thus the minority will quickly grow over time to become the majority or at least a significantly large group when measured in context of the total population. While there are indeed a few negative sites, articles, and experiences reported about ECT, the vast majority of info available is still positive and thus it is still practiced by those in the mainstream medical profession. From this one can infer that the minority group has not grown large enough to upset the balance or cause a change in shift in the industry, thus at this time most people are pleased or at least silent about ECT in general.

Are we concerned about the negative press? Yes. Do we value the information on this site? Absolutetly. Are we convinced that ECT is totally and completely bad for most people in most situations, and that the side effects are severe, long term, and permanent for most people? No. There just aren’t enough negative reports or unbiased scientific surveys out there to raise the alarm bells at this time. Perhaps this will change eventually if ECT really is more bad than good, however at this time we are still seriously considering it and relying on the advice of multiple doctors and information sources before we make our own decision. I hope each of you will do the same.

One other thing which puzzles me about many of the replies on this site: So many of you claim to have long term, significant, permanent memory loss and I do not doubt your claims for one bit. Yet I am wondering how do you know for sure that you forgot something or had that part of your memory erased? Wouldn’t you have to at least retain a partial or distant memory, enough to make you realize that something was indeed there previously but is now incomplete of very fuzzy? If you truly had no memory of it at all then how would you come to think about it as a gap in your current memory? Sure, family and friends can share memories with you, photos and videos exist, medical records exist, etc. but some people will vividly describe things in detail as they tell you all about something which they supposedly have no memory of.

Also, if much of your previous life was bad or traumatic to the degree that it led you to a state of major depression, suicide, and other negative symptoms, would it really be so bad to lose some of those memories? My wife had a terrible childhood and has lived through many traumatic episodes. She hates to think about it and actively blocks a lot of it out, so she is actually kind of hoping that ECT will erase some of those memories and make it easier for her to recover without being pulled down by the past. Sure, some good memories may have to go along with the bad, but if you can function in a healthy and positive manner after ECT then you can re-live many more positive events moving forward which will gradually build up a store of more positive memories to look back on in the future. Would this be so bad?

To us the only really scary part of ECT is the risk of permanent and unrecoverable loss of intelligence, mental intellect, or aptitude. If you were able to learn complex math before ECT but forgot a lot of the rules and formulas due to ECT then this would still be ok as long as you could re-learn those rules and formulas after the short term effects of ECT have diminished. Now if ECT permanently kills or destroys portions of your brain or in some way prevents or significantly impairs re-learning then this would truly be traumatic and not worth pursuing in anything but severe cases where death was imminent or all basic functioning was completely lost. However there are no studies at all showing brain damage caused by ECT that I am aware of, and in fact I have seen several reports showing that there is no brain damage at all. While this is heartening, the risk is still concerning to us so we plan to take Ninu’s advice and request testing before and after the ECT. This will establish a baseline so that we can monitor her short and long term capabilities and say with some certainty whether any long term cognitive functions were lost.

NinuccioFebruary 5th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

To us the only really scary part of ECT is the risk of permanent and unrecoverable loss of intelligence, mental intellect, or aptitude. If you were able to learn complex math before ECT but forgot a lot of the rules and formulas due to ECT then this would still be ok as long as you could re-learn those rules and formulas after the short term effects of ECT have diminished. Now if ECT permanently kills or destroys portions of your brain or in some way prevents or significantly impairs re-learning then this would truly be traumatic and not worth pursuing in anything but severe cases where death was imminent or all basic functioning was completely lost. However there are no studies at all showing brain damage caused by ECT that I am aware of, and in fact I have seen several reports showing that there is no brain damage at all. While this is heartening, the risk is still concerning to us so we plan to take Ninu’s advice and request testing before and after the ECT. This will establish a baseline so that we can monitor her short and long term capabilities and say with some certainty whether any long term cognitive functions were lost.

This procedure of testing prior and after ECT. should be recommended by THEM. You should not have to request anything. You say you have seen several reports showing that there is no brain damage at all. You may have. You have however not see any report showing brain damage!…here’s one. And the reason why you have not seen this one is that it is not allowed to be published on any site…except for this one. Here is just a small portion of it. Listen, this is one of three reports. Two of them said that despite the damages,(and they never really knew the damages), since they had never been released by me yet…until they were slowly extracted from cognitive remediation classes), the procedure were done according to regulation. Let me get down to the real deal. I went in there with an intractable anxiety…and a business adminstration degree…I came out of it with permanent amnesia. Long term memory loss, short term memory loss, focusing what is said problems, memory dejavu, time and place disorientation, impaired insight and judgement, distractibility, emotional gaiting and a right hemiparesis. The only reason why I was not declared incompetent is that my mother was the only person I could depend on…and now that she passes away because of another quack killing her with inappropriate medications…I would not have been able to stand on my own. My injuries were a double whammy but it was the ECT. that took my memory…it was the ECT. doctor who openly lied on my papers…watch your rear end and do not trust anyone…if you do you may fall into the claws of this murderer right here…

Dr. Lothar Kalinowsky: 1) Subjecting the patient to controversial and potentially damaging electroshock
without informed consent. 2) When the patient’s brain function was already impaired, subjecting the patient to another
brain disabling treatment in the form of electroshock.
3) When the patient suffered from an extreme reaction to electroshock, continuing
with the treatment. 4) Failing to inform the patient and family that malpractice had been committed by Dr. Stellar. 5) Failing to inform the patient and family that the patient would never recover from the brain damage inflicted by the psychosurgery and compounded by the electroshock.
6) Giving electroshock to on obviously incompetent patient with no legal guardian, and therefore without consent. 7) Inappropriately prescribing electroshock for a patient in whom it was unwarranted.

Good luck…

I am not against electroshock…I am against people like these causing irreversible damage and washing their hands…been there…done that…Ninuccio.

DebbieFebruary 5th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Hi Michael B,

I completely understand what you saying, but just to let you know how I personally know what memories I have lost if I have in fact lost them. Please include the fact that I barely remember my children’s baby years and toddler years, which I feel is a tremendous loss, and something which I rightfully regret losing. ECT seemed to be the only answer at the time, and it was in fact very temporary help. Something much better came along and helped me live my life much differently and gave me back my life, but it wasn’t ECT. I hope it helps your wife if she in fact undergoes it. Depression is an awful illness.

Michael BMarch 3rd, 2009 at 1:16 am

A brief update on our situation:

My wife decided to have ECT. She has received 6 treatments to-date and has 4 remaining over the next 2 weeks. We have already noticed some improvement in her depression and we are hopeful for more benefits to emerge soon. She is walking at a slightly faster pace with her head up, is more upbeat and positive, has a little more energy, and smiles and laughs a little more often. Not dramatic changes and the depression is still there but it does seem to be lifting. I noticed the improvement right away and so did many others including people that only met her recently.

We have also seen most of the common side effects which they told us to expect. She has a little trouble remembering things which happened immediately before or after a treatment, such as what we had for dinner the day before or a discussion we had on the way to the hospital. On two occasions we were out for a short weekend drive and she did not remember or recognize the areas that we were in. For most of these short term memory lapses, her memory does come back at least partially once I give her some clues or reminders. She has not forgotten anything from her long term memory as best we can tell so far. She also seems to have the same cognitive skills, speech patterns, dexterity, sense of humor, etc.

The main drawbacks from her point of view are as follows: she has a headache and muscle soreness after each treatment, especially in the jaw and temporal regions. She is tired for most of the day after treatment due to anesthesia. Her arm is bruised from all of the IV insertions. All of these things are minor and temporary and we were told about them in advance so for now we are pleased with the treatment and hopeful of continued improvements to come soon during her recovery period when it is all over.

I will post another update later.

anuj kaushikMarch 7th, 2009 at 5:05 am

I use to suffer from bipolar illness since 1983. In 2003 my doctor sister with the help of doctors who made a lot of money gave me ECT shocks . I was a learned person with two degrees in Computer Sciences and i had a permanent residency visa of Australia .( I had slight bouts of bipolar illness of 4 to 5 days and once in 2 years). But after these ECT shocks i have become a useless person with lots of memory loss and iam unable to grasp or learn new things or knowledge. I have been unemployed for the years since 2003 and my manic attacks continued after 2003 . Then fortunatley in 2004 I got herbal medicines for the mind and brains from Ayurvedic doctors here in India.I am perfectly OK for the last 5 years and my bipolar illness is gone. but I could not reverse the side effects of memory loss and learning difficulties after getting ECT shocks.As far as my education in computer sciences is concerned it is not worth mentioning as it has becopme a big zero. Could you please tell me for how many more years will i be a man with memory loss and with no learning abilities? Kindly inform me by email.Please also tell me organizations of people in India who have had ECT so that we can be in touch. please also tell me what usefull jobs I can do to earn my livelihood in the condition I am in.

JimMarch 8th, 2009 at 10:58 am

See, that’s the point. ECT should be used as a last resort. I on the other hand had no mental illness, then due to stress, I started having problems sleeping, to the point where I was sleeping 2 hours a night. I could not function after 4 months. I was told I was bipolar. I tried staying with my brother’s family. My sister in law finally state I needed to be hospitalized. Great! A new doctor put me on lexapro. I became suicidal. I was in out patient classes. I couldn’t help myself, I purchased a gun. One of the teachers found out about the gun (waiting period). I was put back into the hospital. They suggested ECT. I didn’t know what to do by then. I said yes, and had 5 sessions, one both sides, which knocked me for a loop. This was 6 months after my first sleep problems. I was then put on effexor. Back at work. Stayed on effexor full strength for 5 months. I was super reckless (police stopped me 3 times in urban driving). I reduced effexor on my own which took 3 months. After 2 years, I finally told my doctor I was not longer taking drugs. I left him 7 months ago. My problem is my cognitive ability. It is not as good as before ECT. I’m just holding onto my job as a programmer/analyst. I got married and had a baby 1 month ago. She is a beautiful baby girl. My point? I wish I was takened a leave of absence… I didn’t know I could do that. I had worked at the same job for 18 years, totally dedicated. My primary care doctor should have suggested it. I would have gone down to Esalen in Big Sur and just relaxed. I’m very sad that I wasn’t given this choice or that I didn’t take the initiative to do this. Now I have to live with what has happened. Don’t have ECT unless it truely is your last resort. I am 53, had the problem at the end of my 48 year. Thanks for listening. Talljimbo. Yahoo

NinuccioMarch 14th, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I understand. I also had my memory erased by ECT. The only thing I can tell you is that since you have severe memory difficulties the best I believe you can do is what I did. I was directed to neuropsychological testing (properly done) which assessed as much damage as possible. MOST IMPORTANT…after this assessment was made I entered COGNITIVE REMEDIATION classes. With a poster from my neuropsychological tests on the wall across from me. With a group size of up to 6 people.With classes designed to drag…and teach you) out all the symptoms effecting your life. It is a long process but well worth it. It was given to me in the Rusk Institute 400 E. 34th. St. in Manhattan. Good luck in your quest…ECT. can be destructive…as I had been destroyed years prior not too far away from there…Ninuccio…
PS. There are still jerks in this country who say ECT. does not cause damages. Maybe they should talk to folks like you and me…and who knows how many more worldwide…Ninuccio

RobertMay 2nd, 2009 at 9:43 am

Are we talking about unilateral or bilateral ECT?

NinuccioMay 2nd, 2009 at 10:05 am

Wether unilateral, bilateral…if damages are caused…who is there to pick them up?…would you expect the doctor who caused them to pick them up? Or would you expect any other doctor who knows nothing about head injury to pick them up. And if someone would accidentally be able to pick them up…how is he going to pass that information to you. You may be there physically, but mentally now your brain is disfunctional.
You had better a long hard look at the factual reality of this ECT. crap. Because if paramaters are not established…(and they havent been for as long as it has been around)…it will take many more lives…Ninuccio.

DamagedMay 13th, 2009 at 9:08 pm

David Oaks from Mindfreedom was contacted by an individual who says she is from Italian television, based in New York City who wants to intervie ECT Survivors.

Part of the email I received and the contact information is below:

While there are never any guarantees of results about media, the individual I talked to sounds caring, intelligent and sincerely interested in doing a TV show about the issue of forced electroshock.

But because this is TV, and they are in NYC, they need to INTERVIEW survivors of involuntary electroshock who are near them, in New York City area. They may also be interested in interviewing family members of people who were forcibly shocked.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, please e-mail directly to the below contact: balditemp@raicorp.net

BELOW is a forwarded networking e-mail from the journalist.

From: “Baldi Manuela” — balditemp@raicorp.net
Date: May 13, 2009 1:51:37 PM PDT
Subject: RAI Corp. italian tv on ECT and mental illness

Dear David,

as said on the phone, we would like to be connected with someone who has/had involuntary ECT or their family, in NYC. Hope you can help us.

Thank you so far,


Manuela Baldi
RAI Corporation
32, Avenue of the Americas
New York City, NY

TashaAugust 5th, 2009 at 4:01 pm

I’m so glad I hit on this forum. I underwent 24 sessions of ECT 10 years ago and have always wondered if I was an individual case.

Having been depressed for 6 months in 2000 and with various anti-depressants not working, my doctor recommended ECT. I was in no fit state to consider the pros and cons and took his word at face value. (I now think he was on a commission basis for the private medical treatment I received.) I underwent 12 sessions of bilateral treatment over a four week period and suffered huge memory loss, and with no sign of improvement of the depression. After a four week break, another four weeks of ECT were recommended. Due to my previous memory loss, I had unilateral ECT for 3 sessions but as they decided this was having no effect the next 8 sessions were bilateral.

It had to be explained to me where I was and why I was there after each session. On my return home, I couldn’t remember years of memory – my sisters wedding, how to do my job, a serious operation, nothing. Friends were strangers and getting to destinations was impossible without street by street maps.

Long term, it’s been hard. It’s taken years to be able to concentrate and my memory is still shot to pieces. I used to have a brilliant memory, now I have to write down every little detail or I’ll forget in 5 minutes (although I may remember it after a few days – bizzare!). Ten years later I can finally read a book but it’s still difficult. My career has obviously suffered greatly and with so many blank years, my friendships have too.

To add to everything, the ECT didn’t have any effect on my depression. A different doctor changed my medication and three months after my ECT treatment the depression lifted. Unfortunately the memory loss effects haven’t left me so quickly!

Each to their own, but having personally had the experience, I certainly would discourage anyone from having ECT – even if it seems the last resort, like it was sold to me. There are so many different combinations of anti-depressants out there, it’s a matter of hitting on the right one. A good doctor will find it for you.

And to family and friends of those suffering from depression who are reading this, don’t let them go into this “treatment” without careful consideration. I wish someone had stood up for me and asked more questions when I wasn’t able to.


JimAugust 5th, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Tasha, thanks for your comments. I have to agree with you. Interesting how in your case and in my case, ECT was recommended after only 6 months of depression. Don’t they know what effect ECT has on people? Concentration is the biggest problem… hmmm… maybe not exactly, it’s more of just not feeling quite right anymore. I say no to ECT. After my 5 or 6 rounds of ECT, I was on effecsor (sp?) for another six months. I slowly reduced it the next 3 months and was totally off meds for the next 2.5 years (and still am). I finally told my doctor. He said I was the longest ever in his practice (of not telling). I saw him again 6 months later, then I suggested I was done (he agreed – not much choice). I have since married, had a baby girl (now 6 months old) which is about 2 years since my last visit.

What was my original problem? I couldn’t sleep or I could sleep, but I’d wake up an hour larger and be up all night. Finally after 3 months of this, I couldn’t take it… my primary doctor tried to help, but that didn’t work. She sent me to a psychiatrist (sp?). I was diagnosed bi-polar (not!)…

What should I have done? I didn’t realize at the time, but I had been working for ATT for 18 years and I could have taken a medical leave (which I took anyway after the ECT). I think I just needed a break for work, a rest. Too bad I didn’t realize I could have kept my job and taken a leave. I would have gone down to Esalen (Big Sur) and vegged out there for a couple of months.

AnnieAugust 6th, 2009 at 12:03 pm

While reading all these negative comments about ECT and running them through my mind, I still find myself looking for any notion of a silver lining. Someone that talks about the posetive effects of this treatment. Come on, there’s got to be someone that’s glad they did it? Someone who’s living a white picket fence live after ECT?

I’m 29 and I’ve been depressed for at least 15 years. I’m sure most of you reading this knows the feeling. A life unlived, no dreams dreamt, no ambitions but only complexities. In this state you don’t make memories so why stress losing your memory? Only assumption I can reach is that a large percetage of people views ECT as a quick fix, no therapy, little drugs but one (or 12) jolt to make everything better. Maybe?

I was diagnosed with Bipolar I a couple of months ago after having a manic episode. This diagnosis means nothing to me. It’s been one year since I almost threw my life away. I was this close to getting on a plain and jumping from Table Mountain eventhough I have a baby and loving spouse. The medication is not working except if it is suppose to turn me into a zombie.

Three weeks ago my docter adjusted my medication again and suggested ECT if this does not do the trick. Obviously I still feel no change. I’m going for ECT. Who knows maybe I’ll live a white picket fence life?

JimAugust 6th, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I really think the lexapro took me for a spin towards suicide (that’s why they wanted to give me ECT, because I was suicidal). Note: they don’t recommend lexapro for young adults due to the tendancy towards suicide in young people on meds. What’s the difference whether you are young or old? Anyway, at the time, I was lost, didn’t want to live, so I said sure, give me ECT, what do I have to lose.

Annie, if you have been depressed for 15 years, maybe ECT is a good idea, but I’m no expert, just a victim. I think giving someone ECT after only 6 months of problems is a crime!

Again, if you don’t mind feeling something different than before depression (when you were “OK”), go ahead and get ECT. I am a mostly functioning person. I’m on a leave of absence at the moment to take care of my daughter (wife is working) and will return to my job in 9 months. Can I still function at work? Yes. Can I function with my wife and friends? Mostly, but there are times when my brain just doesn’t seem to connect ideas as well as it used to (my brain never feels as good as it did before when I was “OK”). Yes, it’s a bummer, but what can I do, can’t go back and undo the ECT. So, I just try to move on.

Note: after ECT, and on effexor, I was buzzing! My brain was telling me to go go go! I was on medical leave at the time, but I had rental units to take care of. In fact, one of them needed quite a bit of work. I was all over that project (and successful at finishing the remodel of the unit – so I wasn’t bi-polar, or if I was, it wasn’t a negative for me anyway). I also was stopped by the police four times (in 4 months) – only got one ticket in four (I guess effexor and ECT helps you get out of tickets – I was very forthright and strong willed, seems to work with police sometimes). The one ticket I did get, I went to court and the policeman never showed – got off. Anyway, that was the time I told myself to get off effexor (and did slowly over 3 months – only had a giant spider cross my wall once! illusion).

Good luck Annie!

JamesAugust 6th, 2009 at 8:34 pm


Please read above: Mike on May 28,’08 & James on Oct 28,’08. And read the recommended book. If,for you, this is too much work you are in serious trouble, because your recovery depends on a 100% effort on your part.

These are positive reviews, but with some disclaimers. ECT will affect your brain power and maybe take away your ability to work, depending on your occupation. I figure I lost twenty, maybe thirty points off my IQ. I lost my math and language abilities, but I could retired as I was 60 at the time and I had enough money put away to live on, not in the US, but I now live like a king in a third world country.

Should you have ETC you will need help with the kids for six months to a year. I just had to take care of myself and it took every bit of what brain power I had left. I would hate to have been responsible for a child, or even a pet.

Anti-depressants were not working for me before or after ECT. Welbutrin and a couple others made me suicidal even after ECT. Then I was given Lamictal whichl really does wonders for me. “Ask your doctor if it is right for you.”

So really work every angle you can. ECT is a big gamble and should only be an option after you become totally nonfunctional.

Love and blessings, James

NinuccioAugust 6th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Striving to survive. Injured in 1982. All quacks. One after the other. None were ever touched. None admitted the wrongdoings.
Even today the rehabilitative techniques which worked for me are not even mentioned to any of these folks needing treatments.
When I tell people…no one is even aware of them. I need to keep an index card detailing my injuries. The last neuropsych. testing I took…by competent medical institute here in Manhattan…they only told me of one of eight symptoms I was living my life with…already diagnosed a few years earlier by a place close to them.
The same place that diagnosed me, from what I discovered, the hard way, never passed information on of the proper treatments…still given today…(I received mine 14-15 years ago).
So if you are stepping into this…be very, very careful.
Watch your rear end man.
The problem here is not only the potential for injury…but if you sustain an injury…the potential for proper assistance…WHICH DOES EXIST…will not be presented to you.
I am amazed that today…cognitive remediation…which brought me out of that hell I was living in…is rarely mentioned.

Learn all you can before you subject yourself to that electricity…that can alleviate one problem…at the cost scarring you for life…with an injury which will never be picked out because the proper channels are stranger to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists…who wear blinders…to the reality of head injury.

My awareness of the doctor who rehabilitated me. I thanked them profusely. But I wondered why, when I began to recognize them. All egocentric people…who went to work and made their money. Had their patients…(me being one of them)…and did their job. Quite appropriately, they rehabilitated me.

Now these are the rehabilitative part of the medical system. The ones that injured me got away with it quite easily. The ones who rehabilitated me…listen carefully.
One came to the support group one time…as I had been there that day for rehabilitation. She never mentioned the treatment which…(I had been there for a few years then)…she had given me the same day.
And of the top coordinator in my rehabilitative establishment…well renowned all over the world…
I was supposed to see him in Bellevue. When I got there I saw someone else who was not even aware of head injury treatment. You figure this guy goes there once a week. You would figure he would pass the information. Apparently he didn’t.
When I had to go and see him in his establishment…the same place that rehabilitated me…and I told him what happened. He tells me that I am now there.
This is not all the insight I could pass…but this is the reality of head injury.
Be careful not to get stuck in this mess…Ninuccio

Chris BOctober 25th, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Back in the late ’60′s, when I was fifteen, I got ECT to help me deal with suicidal depression. That was the single worst thing that ever happened to me. I did not experience any lift of mood, and in fact my preoccupation with suicide got worse. The reason being the amnesia, which as affected me permanently. My whole self-identity revolved around me being a good student, and suddenly I could not remember most of what I had learned in school. It was devastating to me. I eventually wound up in a psychiatric hospital and then spent an additional eight years on drugs I did not need. My experiences in the hospital convinced me that suicide was not a good option, but I still suffered from depression until I was in my late ’40′s, about ten years ago. During the period from the time I was 18 until I was in my late 40′s I rarely saw a therapist because I did not want to be put back on psychiatric drugs and I sure as Hell did not want any more ECT! (I quit the drugs on my own after failing to find a therapist or psychiatrist willing to take me off of them). Finally I did receive RET – Rational Emotive Therapy, which did me a world of good. That was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I would not recommend ECT to anyone, based on my own experiences with it.

KathleenNovember 2nd, 2009 at 7:43 am

I recall how distraught I was after the death of my son, and how ECT was presented as the only solution to “cheer me up” again.
I had no idea what would happen.
I’ve lost nearly all memories of my son, my wedding, courting of my husband, pretty much everything since about 1996.
I don’t think that cost was worth the short-term zombieness of ECT treatments. About two years ago, I was back in the hospital (again). They tried to pressure me into getting more ECT. They said my memory loss was an effect of my medications. Bull.
No one should have to go through this without FULL knowledge of the side effects. And that doctor, Sackeim, can burn in hell for all I care.

JudyNovember 21st, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Please know that there actually ARE people whose ECT treatments have been considered positive experiences, and I am one of them; but it seems that only people who have had bad results might be the ones writing in. To all of these people, you have my deepest sympathy.

I had to understand the good and the bad concerning treatment, and for me having it definitely was the right decision. The “good” was that my depression would finally be gone, and the “bad” would be to lose memory.

Well, ECT, along with proper medication, has kept my depression in check. I have had over 70 ETC treatments so I am very well acquainted with procedures and side-effects. Right now I am on “maintenance” treatments (once a month), to ensure that my depression will not return. Before I had ECT, I had been hospitalized eight times, so I really consider my ECT a “life-saver.” The way they administer my treatment is excellent, and I never have a headache or feel bad afterwards. I’m usually a little tired, and I sleep a couple of hours when I get back home.

Unfortunately, as I had known I might, I have had lapses of memory. All my family is very understanding, and they help me fill in events and experiences I might not remember. I’ve sort of developed a sense of humor about it, and now I don’t feel embarrassed to tell anyone that I’ve had electroshock treatments if my memory problem involves someone or something outside my family. I just take this situation in stride and look on the bright side. My mind just has a little more room for good things! God Bless!


MickDecember 9th, 2009 at 5:25 am

My experience has been much like Judy’s (comment above).
I had 22 treatments over 6 month period while I was on short term disability. it saved my life … and my job. There has been some memory loss, but it was worth it. I have a job that requires mental clarity and attention to detail and I am performing very well. I would do it again if I had to.

Michael BDecember 9th, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Another update to my previous comments:

My wife completed her ECT treatments in April 2009. She had 11 total sessions. I mentioned the short term side effects previously. From my perspective the treatment was successful and beneficial, in that her depression has been significantly reduced and she is now able to function again, albeit with continued medication. She is feeling and looking better than before the treatment and some of her normal hobbies and interests are returning.

Her initial reaction to the treatment was positive but now that she has been feeling better for a while she is convinced that she has some lingering side effects. Her main complaint is memory loss where she cannot remember certain events close to the time of the treatment, and she occasionally has trouble remembering little things from day to day or concentrating while reading a long book. She also complains of blurred near-sighted vision periodically.

Her memory seems fine to me, no different than prior to the treatment, and our eye doctor confirms that her vision is normal for her age and condition prior to the treatment, but she swears that ECT still effected her to some degree in these areas. When asked if she would do it again, her answer is no. I believe this is a mistake as she doesn’t fully realize or remember how bad she was before the treatment, but I can’t blame her for feeling this way given her current memories and perspective.

So to me it seems that a complete and fair evaluation of ECT needs to take into account the feedback from doctors, medical tests, patients, and family members. The patient alone is not able to fully evaluate the outcome since the side effects may limit their ability to remember relevant details and they may be prone to blaming the ECT treatment for other conditions or treatments which are not related to ECT. Anyone researching this issue should do their own research and not rely heavily on any one source.

ninuccioDecember 10th, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Had she received proper neuropscyhological testing prior to ECT…(properly executed)…and received a diagnosis…then the ECT. Then it followed up by neuropsychological testing again. The results should have been the same. If not, then cognitive remediation would be able to pick up the remaining difficulties. It is a proven procedure where there needs to be “no guessing”.
I received my cognitive remediation classes in the Rusk. Today…15 years later…I still keep an index card with all the symptoms diagnosed on it…which I had learned to compensate for. I have been compensating for the passed 15 years…and will have to do so for the rest of my days. The brain damage caused me is irreversible…but at least I know it.
I was not comfortable after my damages. It was the cognitive remediation classes which made me fully aware of myself. A few years later I received neuropsychological testing agin…which didn’t even come close to all the damages brought out by the cognitive remediation. I believe cognitive remediation would be a very important procedure for anyone…Ninuccio.

MickDecember 10th, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Michael B,

Interesting comment. I think I actually had more short term memory issues during depressive episodes than I do now … a year after having 22 ECT treatments. I certainly had issues at first, but I kept improving over the months following the treatment and I think I’m better than before. I did lose a couple of years that have a just a few sketchy memories, but I think it was worth it.

Perhaps some people experience memory loss as part of their illness and not because of ECT.

ninuccioDecember 10th, 2009 at 7:45 pm

What may be important about my post is that it mentions that it was cognitive remediation…(a very much needed follow-up treatment to neuropsychological testing)…that brought out an injury which I have kept on an index card for the passed 15 years. My short term memory loss, and long term memory loss, may have first been caused by my neurosurgeries…but I know it was aggravated by my shocks. I think my main point is that even the neuropsychological testing…BY ITSELF…was too limited in making me understand my damages. It was the cognitive classes which brought out my true injuries. Now, in my case, I am now afflicted by a syncope…(which is a fainting situation of which the doctors don’t know much about)…that will need to be taken care of…BUT…my cognitive remediation classes, diagnosed 15 years ago, are a constant part of my life these doctors have learned from to give me assistance for my “syncope”. Actually, they have not yet diagnosed my “syncope”…and they may never be able to. THE BRAIN HAS BEEN TOUCHED. Yet no guesses as to my prior injuries with which they can work with. Maybe my main point is that neuropsychological testing by itself would have been ineffective by itself. Luckily I had cognitive remediation, otherwise today they would be finding other symptoms…(which the cognitive remediation has already brought out) and they may have attributed to my syncope.
Head injury can be tragic. Some of “us”…have recouped enough. Some, without proper treatments, will never even be able to get the full understanding of their cognitive problems. So from the very beginning of this site…”Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia and Cognitive Deficits, Prominent Researcher Admits…Forbes”. That admission is tremendously important. Now that the admission has been made…there is also information about other methods, far more effective then neuropsychological testing by itself. I believe…I know for myself…those three years in cognitive remediation classes in the Rusk Institute in Manhattan…were what I needed. Without them…today I would still be looking…Ninuccio.

John L. BarrellaJanuary 7th, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Don’t even want to get on again. Let me just bring to sight the fact that neuropsychological testing is “extremely important” prior to ECT. Just in case of damages. It will be extremely important after ECT. to determine current damages…however…if you are able to get into cognitive remediation classes…that may be what will iron everything out. I am surprised you were not given neuropsychological testing prior to ECT…but here again neither was I.
My cognitive difficulties will be with me for the rest of my life…and maybe even get worse…they seem to be right now with a syncope situation…watch yourself…these people do make lots and lots of mistakes…I am one of them…Ninuccio

rmuldavinJanuary 9th, 2010 at 3:18 pm

good to read that your web site runs to most current date, 07 jan 2010.

I’ll try to up date what the google type searches say to pull out most current (to use a shocking word) information.

Our local Traverse City Police Department, Michigan has purchased some Tasers, and it seems future demonstrations for Peace as well as to the random drinker, we all need to learn from the newly approved medical maryjane written regulations to take the pain out of our lives in a natural way.

Group therapy needs practice and we need to work with all groups.

Best, rm

Mark RolliceJanuary 16th, 2010 at 12:54 am

My wife received a session (8x) of ECTs around 2002. She has complained about some memory loss but she had functioned quite well until 2007. Her depression came back due to not coping with stress properly. She has been hospitalized 3 timea; she has taken the maximum dosage using all the newest medications. Her last 2 pyschiatrists have closely monitored her situation and had ended up changing meds. The docs in hospital and her 2 psychiatrists have recommended ECTs because she has tried them all.
She has a sister who received a PhD in Clinical Psychology and studied neuropsychology at Harvard Hospitals. Her sister is against ECTs. She feels it leads to dementia. My wife has been suffering for the last 2-3 years. She would take her meds and feel better. 3 months later she would fall down again with depression. She and I are at our last resort.
I have read your posted comments tonight and I am worried about the side effects that could happend to my wife. The hospital is recommending 12x every other day for the next few weeks. I have seen what the last ECT has done for her and my family and wife were happy as a result.
My wife is looking for a relief from the mental anguish she has. She takes anxiety meds and they are not strong enough.
I want my happy, joyful, loving, smiling wife back. She misses her old self and so does her family. I feel that having ECTs will help her tremendously. Since we have no other choice, it looks as if we will go through it. I will ask for a neurological testing done before and after the ECT. I will also monitor her memory daily when I visit her in the hospital.
Should I tell her sister about the decision?

MickJanuary 16th, 2010 at 7:10 am

I’m not sure about telling her. Maybe you should ask your wife.

I do know ECT has helped me … I’m sure I would not be here now without it. I went through a series of episodes, mostly misxed and manic at first, and then went into a deep depression. Lots of different meds were tried and after about 2 years of trying meds that woud dork for a while and then fail, I agreed to ECT. I had 22 treatmens over about 5 to 6 months. I still have some memory loss over a year later. But mostly of the 2 years just before and during the ect. I can function very well at my job… and it requires a lot of detail. I did have to lear parts of it over again. I am 54 years old. What you said abount dementia concerns me because my mother died of Pick’s disease. But I would have treatments again if needed. I still have spisodes, but much milder. send me an e-mail if you would like to discuss it …. ramji_goodman@yahoo.com (excuse my typos)

MaryJune 22nd, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I had 21 ECT treatments within 2 months last year. I was suffering from memory loss and headaches during this time and spoke to my doctor about it. According to my family I was dsyfunctional between treatments as I was having 3 per week. I was told that I had to carry on with the ECT treatments until I was better. The hospital kept on pushing me in and out for the ECT treatments. It seems to me that it was a money maker for them. The doctor administering the ECT would ask how I was feeling whilst lying on the gurney in the ECT room being prepared for treatment. He would write ‘patiient depressed’ or ‘patient less depressed’ usually by asking a couple of questions. There was no proper consultation with the doctor administering the ECT. It all came to a halt when my husband complained to the hospital about their practices and asked for my records.

I now have a great doctor who informs me that his practice is if a patient does not respond after the sixth ECT he does not continue, as there is no proven benefit to a patient. I have huge gaps in my memory though I can remember distant memories more clearly. I find it hard to read and typing this is difficult. The memory problems really bother me. People talk to me about things that we have done together and I cannot remember. My husband is very angry about this. I cannot even remember vacations together.

I still have Major depression which impedes my life. I have made several suicide attempts recentlly. I can clearly say that the ECT just made me feel worse. I have tried so many medications over the past 3 to 4 years which have not worked. Some have even made me worse. I would say to anyone considering ECT to do a lot of research first and find a good doctor. My doctor says that they have had good results using ketamine with ECT. He will not go this route with me because of the damage from the previous sessions. He was shocked to find that I had had so many treatments over two months.

Please tread carefully!

john l. barrellaOctober 29th, 2010 at 7:43 pm

In the Rusk Institute in Manhattan I finally received cognitive remediation classes in 1992-94. It made all the difference. Did it make me better. Well, I realized the position I was in. Not very pleasant. The cogniitve remediation made me aware of my deficits and I compensate for them still today…very important for someone to understand where assistance for your situation is given. And even if not the Rusk at least you can understand the assistance necessary…Ninuccio

veterans lawyersNovember 10th, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject.

NinuccioNovember 10th, 2011 at 7:54 pm

I don’t know if I am cool…but what I wonder about is that I finally, because of my mother, was lucky enough to be admitted to the Rusk Institute in Manhattan. I received a treatment extremely simple, yet repetitive…(it’s reasoning is to allow you to bring out your taught process as you are doing the exercises (outside the Rusk(). It was “innovative” at the time. It was also coupled up with a few other treatments for you to discover those symptoms…(the old by neuropsychological testing, plus the new ones “slowly” recognized…) I had taught that this treatment would be the new pathway for head injured people to be able to recognize their deficits. This was 15 to 16 years ago. I may have heard it mentioned with a few differences…but never, never, have I seen it explained. I also want to say that even as I was receiving it, in the very beginning, it was also difficult to understand how it worked. It is an extremely slow treatment, as the brain has to be rewired. To me,in the very beginning, it felt like kindergarten. It was maybe 6 months, to a year, when those symptoms on the chart, I was beginning to get a hold of. Today…16 years later, after rewiring the brain,it works along the same thought pattern they had asked me to establish in the Rusk. Yet, even today, they are people that still have not received neuropsychological testing…THE VERY BEGINNING OF THIS PROCESS. I have gotten a bit worse…physically…these days…AND as it was told to me by a doctor who was not even aware of cognitive remediaiton…possibly as a result of my head injuries. Today, from what I have seen…there is stiLl no knowledge of
proper techniques of cognitive remediaiton training…(anyway, the way I have written it down…as I had gone through my old notebooks and copied it). My thoughts are based on my DIARY OF MY EXISTENCE POST HEAD INJURY. They are all basically backed up by written materials…through a diary of my situation…Ninuccio…thank you for the comment.
PS. My cognitive remediation classes were given to me in the Rusk Institute on 34th. St. in Manhattan. 6th. floor…I would have to look for the doctor who introduced it. It was a neuropsychologist who had deviced the neuropsychological tests. Cannot recall the name right now…Ninuccio

NinuccioNovember 10th, 2011 at 8:01 pm

When I find the name, if I remember, I will write it here. Now let me point out to you, I am aware my memory will not hold. I am also aware, as to what I was taught in the Rusk, as to how to compensate for that. THEREFORE, I will write it in my TO DO List. In my computer. I will check it from time to time…as I do because it is always in front of me. I will then tackle the task of finding the doctors name. I need to live my life through a computer. I live on a CALENDAR program, utilized from the “established” knowledge of my head injuries. So I won’t forget…(I cannot forget)…Ninuccio

NinuccioNovember 11th, 2011 at 8:29 am

ANY amnestic syndrome is different…”particular into itself”. The process of understanding it does require a clinical psychologist…but only as a small portion of its rehabilitation. Now you see them say that” Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia and Cognitive Deficits, Prominent Researcher Admits”. They admitted this approximately 30 years after it happened. So I suggest, anyone, with head injuries to follow the proper procedures, for the full problem to be acknowledge. If you hoop up to only one of the sections of the processes necessary, it will be a problem. My advice is that the proper treatment is neuropsychological testing…plus cognitive remediation…and work site assistance…with a group of doctor monitoring your activities and making you aware the degree of damage, and the potential of work…The medical system is what it is. There are numerous pitfalls. There are numerous doctors who wear blinders. Leaan about head injury and follow through with the programs which have finally been established in regards to rehabilitation for head injury…GOOD LUCK…Ninuccio…PS. Oh yeah. Injuries caused by doctors, with ECT., surgery…whatever…are very well shielded by malpractice lawyers who know how to do their job…Ninuccio

NinuccioNovember 11th, 2011 at 9:29 am

Ralph Reitan Ph.D. renowned neuropsychologist…he is the one who developed neuropsychologicla testing for the head injured…and COGNITIVE REMEDIATION…

John L. BarrellaMay 11th, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Anyone, in this great medical system, needs advocacy to neuropsychological testing and “cognitive remediation”. I received it years ago. I live by it today. I hope to avoid the retrograde regneratation I am subject to because of my neurosurgeries and shocks. Had I not had the “cognitive remediation” classes…3 years cognitive classes, doubled up with a DVE. Program…(detailed neuropsychological testing)…and a WPAT. program…(Work and Personal Adjustment Training)…working in a site with compensation techniques taught by the cognitive remediation classes…(while still attending the classes). Had I not had that treatment and become fully aware as to my thinking potential…there would be no way I would still be here today…BUT…how capable is the system in providing proper assistance. I received financial assistance from VESID services. Vocational Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities…to the tune of approximately 60 to 70 thousand dollars. I realized the need for a computer to write down my memory as I had been taught in my cognitive classes. VESID would not help me with a computer…no computer training. TODAY the CALENDAR PROGRAM in my computer is my existance. Lucky I had discovered many years later that I knew how to type. With my head injuries, sustained by doctor’s hands, sustained by Dr. Stanley Stellar, St. Barnabas Hospital by neurosurgeries and Dr. Lothar Kalinowsky, Gracie Square Hospital, Manhattan, New York. They both lied on all of their papers. Were backed up in their murder by a doctor saying those were the risk I had subjected myself to. Another doctor brought lots of awareness on head injuries and shocks. Made a prediagnoses of my potential injuries. The Rusk gave me rehabilitation 12 to 15 years later…and TODAY…right now…I have an aide coming to my house. A have a nurse coming to my house. I am retrograding as Dr. Breggin mentioned in his papers. I one day may not even be able to get to this computer…that was not even suggested, nor supplied by my rehabilitative team…AT LEAST…the VERY LEAST…LET PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE POTENTIAL OF HEAD INJURIES. LET PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE POTENTIAL OF DESTRUCTION BROUGHT ON BY DOCTOR’S HANDS. NOONE DESERVES THIS…NOONE…Ninuccio

Zachary LytleDecember 9th, 2012 at 10:13 pm

If I could cut the testicles off the doctors who performed ect on me I would be doing them ABSOLUTELY no more harm than they did me. They made a mint on what they (nay one could see) was a scam and a sham and they deserve the worst that can be doled out.

Zachary LytleApril 1st, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Do what you want, but know that ECT is a scam. My memory, both long and short-term have been powerfully affected. The scam goes something like this: You go in depressed, you get anesthesia, you get shocked, you wake up feeling spaced out and slightly high/loopy from the anesthesia (so, better, right?) and… within 3 days or so you start to feel depressed again – JUST as you are due for another treatment! It is the fastest, easiest way for nurses, anesthesiologists and “doctors” to make tons of $ you could imagine. They herd people in like sheep and can perform scores of these procedures a day. I received mine at Yale. I was a recent Yale grad. There were Yale professors there receiving ECT. It was shameful. After having given so much to this horrible university (another subject) to see them rob their own of something so precious… I plan to sue.

Mark RolliceApril 1st, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Everyone, I have great news. We found a better treatment than ect. It is called tms or transcranial magnetic stimulation. Dr. Marisa Mares of Pacifica Nueropschology in Los Angeles highly recommended it. We looked into it at South bay tms in Manhattan Beach, Ca. There are many websites that talk a deal about it, including Dr. Oz on youtube. No anesthesia and no long term side effects. About 35 treatments for about 40 minutes in length. And the best thing was our hmo insurance company reimbursed us 100%. My wife feels a whole lot better and is back at work. I highly recommend tms. Thank you Dr. Martha Koo and her staff at South Bay TMS.

NinuccioApril 1st, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I am surprised this site appeared on my internet. I have been suspended from the site. Now its good to look at other situations to recognize whatever direction is appropriate for you. THERE IS NO AWARENESS OF HEAD INJURY that will be passed on to you…except for people like me…WHO HAVE GONE THROUGH IT…HAVE SURVIVED IT…AND WILL STRUGGLE FOR THE REST OF THEIR DAYS TO STAY ALIVE. I was injured in the early 80′s by prominent doctors. My injuries were extensive…YET…EVERY SINGLE DOCTOR WASHED THEIR HANDS. Not unusual as you will learn. Don’t want to go through my story…BUT…be aware that you will need to become fully aware as to the extent of your injuries. That will require “competent” assistance. The Rusk Institute in Manhattan is such a place. BUT…let me make you aware…if you don’t get there…they will not come to get you. They will not advocate to have people get to them. “Cognitive Remediation” is the treatment that you will need to get to. It will be very slow. It will take time. It took me three years. After which they will give a report as to the extent of your injuries. I am sure you are injured…but I am sure without cognitive remediation you may not be able to understand the full extent of your injuries. I was wise enough to make an index of my cognitive remediation classes and I have showed it continuously to many places who were not able to assist me with their programs. The last time was when I went to a place in Manhattan where I received neuropsychological testing, after whch I was told that they see I have a short term memory loss. I told them, I have more than a short term memory loss. I showed them my index card of my injuried diagnosed by the Rusk Institute,not far away from them. Here is what my index card read…”Long term memory loss, short term memory loss, focusing what is said,memory dejavu,time and place disorientation,impaired insight and judgement,distractibility,emotional gaiting,hemiparesis”…I presented this to the guy who had told me my test results…He had said he sees a short term memory loss. So by having said all this…the ONLY Proper assistance will be given you by cognitive remediation classes…that will take as long as they take. The medical system is so flawed that just recently I made a 3 minute camera inteview for a news channel. The mentioned some of my injuries…and some of my difficulties…and the treatment that rehabilitated me…(rehabilitated meaning understanding the full extent of your injuries)…but they…the newpeople…nor the nurses…are aware as to how it is done. SO…after having been able to jump in here let me tell you what I think. You were probably injured…You will need to understand the full extent of your injuries.That can be done if you take the proper neurosychological testing and follow up with cognitive remediation classes. I wish you luck in your trails…just make sure you end up in the proper places. There is no question to me…(nor to the lawyers who tried to help me)…that the medical system is INCOMPETENT…and very well shielded and protected while causing head injuries. It is also true that the assistance to make you fully aware as to the extent of your injuries does EXIST. It is called cognitive remediation. It is given at the Rusk Instituted.There are many misdirections, including the very doctors who gave me the treatments never mention them to anyone else…GOOD LUCK…don’t forget neuropsychological testing and cognitive remediation…and good luck. If you need any information and I am not thrown off this site I will be glad to answer by the same information I have passed on over and over again to many on the site, before I got thrown off this site by people who never, ever were able to understand the cognitive remediation classes, whose information I had passed on over and over again…Good luck…

MikeApril 1st, 2013 at 11:13 pm

ECT is not to be taken lightly. It is a last resort. You will be cognitively damaged afterwards.

I have always been good at math and used to multiply four digit numbers in my head just to stay sharp. Now I need a calculator to add a row of single digit numbers. Fortunately I could take early retirement so that I do not have to work. Holding down a job now is impossible. If I were younger and had to support myself I would be in serious trouble.

I had exhausted all available modalities. I had become completely non-functional. I spent my days on my hands and knees staring at the patterns in the carpet so ECT was my last choice. ECT gave me most of my life back and I am glad I had it, but as stated I did have to pay the price.

Basically ECT is the same as a normal frontal lobotomy. Instead of an ice pick electricity is used, so beware. ECT is not to be taken lightly.

ZachSeptember 23rd, 2015 at 4:07 am

Did anyone who’s suicidal simply forget being suicidal?

MikeOctober 5th, 2015 at 11:20 pm

Hi Zack,

I wrote the post just above yours so you can get an Idea of my situation.

I had suicidal thoughts from age 12 to 60, when I had ECT. Afterwards my life changed for the better and suicidal thoughts disappeared. They returned only once during a short period of difficulty in my life. I think, for me, that when life is difficult suicidal thoughts are a means of considering a way out of my problems. However, if I was really going to commit suicide I would have done it by now.

Life was so difficult for me before ECT that at some point I may have killed myself if I did not have ECT. However, though it affected my mind to point that I could only do the most menial tasks, ECT cleared a lot of depression from my mind, along with a lot of short term memory abilities.

The bottom line is that ECT will not magically make suicidal thoughts disappear but it does make you more open to changing your life for the better which can make suicidal thoughts disappear.

ZachOctober 7th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

I doubt I’ll survive any other way unless I forget the past year, was pretty horrible. I’m hoping the memory loss would just wipe out my suicidal thoughts and memories completely.

KarJune 3rd, 2016 at 9:19 am

Finished up with 15 ECT treatments a few months ago. My memory loss is severe and is not improving. With reminders, I can envision “snapshots” of certain memories, but other “memories” are completely gone. I spend half my time re-learning stuff I used to know how to do, or finding a few “started” diaries that lasted a few weeks each time, filled with someone else’s life; I lost so much of mine to ECT. Yes, I almost succeeded in my suicide attempt, but I can’t believe that if I knew then what I know now, I would consent to ECT – which I can only assume I did.

NoelJune 4th, 2016 at 3:03 am

Hello, I am a survivor of 22 treatments over 4 months. Against my psych’s script, I refused to continue due to the hallucinations and debilitating effects. A few weeks after my last treatment My awareness of side effects of complete memory loss, short and long term. Cognitive impairment. My communication skills, verbal and in writing, problem solving and recognition were pressured. Now 6 months later, the symptoms continue and I am alone. I have started TMS and iI have hopes in lessening my depression.
Thank you for this blog. Thank you for reading my words. Goodnight

IanJune 5th, 2016 at 2:44 pm

You are not alone, I have had 26 treatments of ECT over 2 years. My memory both long and short term are full of holes and I have cognitive impairment problems. I can’t sleep even though I am medicated. Doctor wants to try TMS, on the waiting list. I will NEVER take another ECT treatment again. I hate my life.

AndreaJune 21st, 2016 at 3:22 am

This is just my experience: After undergoing 19 rounds of ECT with my, aggh, what, what is it with? Oh yes, my approval. 19 rounds of ECT following multiple Psych admissions due to Suicidal Ideation/ummmm, oh Suicide attempts/Severe Depressive Disorder/Bi-Polar II; I took what I thought and my PSYCH considered was my last shot. 3.5 years later I have significant memory loss, severe word finding difficulty, cognitive functioning impairment and am leaning more towards being Mentally Unstable. The sad thing is the big holes in my memory, the accomplishments I can’t remember, my normally very articulate self now struggles to find words and how to use them, the wonderful worldwide travel I have done (?) and the fact that my brother loves to torment me about the holes in my memory. I took the leap and requested ECT……3.5 years on I would not recommend it to my worst enemy. Perhaps I should have taken note that my treatment was occurring behind an unidentified door in the basement of a respected California Hospital????

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SherryJanuary 29th, 2017 at 11:24 pm

I underwent ECT after having to be hospitalized in the woman’s ward due to an allergic reaction to psychotropic medications to treat my bipolar mood disorder depressive type II and OCD in 2003. I had been on the medications and they had been working for years prior to the reaction which has been an ongoing problem for me on any medications prior to the ECT. I was assigned an oncologist who hollered at my psychiatrist for trying to poison me. I was deemed too ill to be put in the mental ward which made it hard on the nurses in the women’s section as well as the person that was sharing my room as I had to be taken off all psychotropic medication at the time. I ended up having to be put in a room to myself. I thought I was fine but I rearranged the furniture several times a day including moving the heavy hospital bed around. I have an over sensitivity to medication and frequently am only able to take a fourth of a normal dose. I’ve completely lost most of the memory of that year and years prior to that for at least five years. I have spots of memory throughout my life prior to the ECT that are gone to me now. The biggest problem I had during the ECT was I completely lost my sense of humor. I had severe short-term memory loss, and had at least two days in a row in which I continued to repeat the exact same story over and over again to everyone. As soon as I would stop with the story I would see in their eyes I already said it, I’d feel bad for just a second but then I would just start over again and would not have remembered I had just told the story. I think the sheer repetition of those days as well as the strong feeling of happiness at something good to tell them followed by the feeling of being a burden is why I remember them now. I felt like I had damage to the right side of my brain and found for many years I had trouble pronouncing L and pr words and appeared to have a slight Asian accent when I would say something like “project runway”. I received cognitive behavior therapy and unbelievably enough I actually remember that. I have found it to be most helpful and whenever my brain says something negative I say to myself I’m a good person and I just continue and believe it or not my brain gives up before I do. My psychiatrist stopped the ECT when I said I was saving money because I was able to read the same comic stripe every night. We decided to try the ECT because I was down to only two drugs left that I could use to treat my OCD, depression and bipolar mood disorder so he started me on lamictal. I went back to college and was eventually able to pronounce L and Pr words but I feel like my brain is using a different place with those words and now unbelievably enough I’m great in math and science and I’ve never been before the ECT. The thing I found most helpful was I remember my grandma when she was trying to remember something she would rub her thumb and forefinger together. I did that a lot when I was trying to remember how to pronounce words or just get my brain to work right. I think maybe it stimulates your brain. I was fortunate enough to have a loving family and husband with a good sense of humor and I eventually got mine back too. I believe ECT did help me. I had the kind that was on one side of the brain. I believe that side of my brain was damaged by the ECT but the other side of my brain has compensated for that damage. I also had problems with not using the word that I was thinking and sometimes just have gibberish come out of my mouth when I was trying to say something. I still sometimes have my brain get stuck and keep saying the same wrong word over and over again instead of the one I want to use. I’m fortunate that I have people I work with on my job who understand this and cut me some slack. I’m sure it helps that I’m very good at my job. So many employers love OCD. I look on the bright side of some of my permanent memory loss, I was able to re-watch movies that my husband said I apsolutely love for the first time a second time, and many of the really sad things that happened in my life I don’t remember. I am fortunate enough to have a psychiatrist who has always enabled me to be the deciding factor in my treatment options. I also have to admit that I have had psychotic episodes which have also caused memory loss on the short and long term prior to my ever having ECT. After my first psychotic episode I had to learn how to tie my shoes again and boy was that hard at the age of 29 and not able to tie my shoes. Fortunately my gradeschool children were very patient and helpful to me. Made me feel guilty about how hard I was on them when they learned. Quite humbling and now l am a lot more patient with people than I ever was before. It’s just the memory loss and I’d say brain damage was so much more severe with the ECT than any of the episodes I had. Since I’ve had the ECT I have not had one psychotic episode that’s in over a decade a record for me. Also not been on disability from work since the ECT another record for me. I know this is lengthy but I just was hoping I could help someone else. Ultimately you need a psychiatrist who includes you in the decision-making process in treating your illness. Having a loving and supportive family with a good sense of humor is also most helpful but I know many people are not quite that lucky.

BenjaminFebruary 24th, 2017 at 6:33 am

I just had ECT – 12 treatments over 4 weeks – I feel I was coerced by my GP and Psychiatrist… I now have major memory loss, a buzzing sensation in my brain along with chronic headaches and I find it difficult to function and be productive during the day/night… I regret having the ECT treatment and will be looking into suing the Health Department in Western Australia. My Mental Health has not improved and my quality of life has significantly decreased. The brain is such a fragile and still in many respects an undiscovered organ, to think zapping it with electricity could suddenly transform someone’s state of health ‘in my opinion’ is a joke…!

Sandy NorthJune 19th, 2017 at 4:46 pm

I had 2 sets of ect. Each set was 5 ect …I think. They stopped giving me ect because they had a hard time bring out of the seazure. My memory was destroyed. I had to quite my job. The scary part is the memory kept getting worse. I lost all 6 years of college education. I can’t retrieve any of it. My husband and my family fill me in a lot about my past. Unfortunately I don’t know what is a real memory and what was planted back in by love ones. I felt like I was lied to on the safety of this treatment. I am still mourning at times who I used to be. I made a new me, learned to read, math, cook, etc

Why u wannaknowJune 23rd, 2017 at 6:21 am

Thank you uesus. I finally know what happened to me. Fuck. I feel retarded. I feel spacy.i can’t remember, focus on conversation, gather my thoughts before I speak. I can’t keep a job. 80 treatment lts 3 years. I feel so broken. My self esteem is damaged because every person who are my loved ones constantly reminds me about my new me. I agreed to so many treatments because I felt so depressed I felt it was the only option to keep going. Now I’m depressed and stupid

BrainDamagedJuly 14th, 2017 at 10:51 pm

I had suffered a TBI 24 years ago, and had never been on any medication. And 8 years ago, I was prescribed anxiety and medication for depression. I had had an ongoing successful professional career up until 12 rounds of ECT, from a psychiatric hospital and completely forgot much of everything, including loved ones and family. Now I am disgusted with most psychiatric doctors whom are legalised drug pushers and have no responsibility for this. It is as if I have reinjured my brain all over again. This is barbaric and Should be made illegal. Now psychologists and psychiatric doctors are being paid to say that people do not have side effects or memory loss. These people are not professional only at deception.

CherylAugust 15th, 2017 at 11:46 pm

This message is for Robin, who posted in 2007. I am not sure if she will see it. I had Post Partum Psychosis about 12-13 yrs ago. I had 34 rounds of bi lateral ECT. I just wanted to tell her that after I recovered, I still have no recollection of the toddler mommy years and it is a huge void. I can relate and she is not alone. The beauty is that we make more memories. That is all I can say because there are no other words. Take care and God Bless!!

CherylAugust 15th, 2017 at 11:56 pm

Even though I lost years that I will never get back, the ECT was worth it. When medication was not working, the ECT helped clear the psychosis for longer periods of time after the delivery of my son. I think in certain cases, it is beneficial.

SeciliaSeptember 8th, 2017 at 4:05 am

I’m at 52 and counting. No regrets. Yes some memory loss… but I accept that in place of the suicidal battle.

KellyOctober 14th, 2017 at 1:41 pm

I had 12 sessions of ECT 4-8 weeks ago. Until last week, I could barely speak. I could not pronounce my own last name or remember my age or date of birth. I had to crawl up stairs and relearn how to walk and stand without falling. I got confused if I was cold, hungry, thirsty, or had to urinate, so I would just scream. I soiled myself. I prayed for death every hour of every day.

I still have hours and days in which I cannot speak at all or only telegraphically. I’d estimate that I’ve lost 95% of my memories of my own life. I don’t recognize the house or town I’ve lived in for 20 years. I cannot drive a car, brush my teeth, or function. I stare blankly into space for hours. I could go on, but what is the use?

This is an unimaginable hell. My doctor’s only comment was that “at least I am still alive.” I am not and do not know how I will ever be.

EricOctober 14th, 2017 at 10:01 pm

I have severe social anxiety, major depression, germ phobia as well as suicidal adulation. I have a hard time even writing this cuz I keep forgetting what I was wanting to write. I have a hard time making a remark on a simple conversation because in mid sentence I will forget everything they said and what I wanted to say. I have a hard time even pronouncing words now. I also forget how to spell simple words. Thank goodness for spell check. I had 12 ect’s the doctors thought ect’s would help me after meds weren’t helping. I now have very bad short term memory and that’s scary to me and also very embarrassing. I rather be alone because I feel very inferior around people.

disgusted by kiddydoc writerJune 3rd, 2018 at 5:14 am

KIDDYDOC you are one hell of a disgusting selfisch narcisstic person and should check your own narcisstic mental health out instead of subjecting your brother for ect for things any normal person would have done. You are so enormously selfish to want to subject him to ect to make him submissive,especially when he has not even done anything out of the ordinary considering the circumstances. please get treated for narcisstic personality disorder for the rest of your life,urgently please.

Linda HofflandAugust 21st, 2018 at 5:17 pm

I had 41 ECTs over 4 months. I finally stopped because I felt almost suicidal, which was not a part of my depression. As a result, I have memory loss, both short and long term.. I have cognitive problems, such as learning to use my Iphone. I also have altered sense of taste and smell. I have daily episodes of severe muscle spasms and acute pain. I have constant nausea. I have acute, sharp pain in my thumbs which limits my ability to grip or use my hands for moderate work such as gardening. I have daily headaches. Has anyone out there had this many treatments over a short period of time? Does anyone experience the same or similar symptoms I have? My life has been profoundly changed, for the worse. And it did nothing to alleviate my depression. Comments please.

George MoffettJanuary 22nd, 2020 at 10:57 pm

Stem cell therapy cures brain damage.

George MoffettJanuary 22nd, 2020 at 11:09 pm

Good supplements to repair cognitive functioning:

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Good therapies to restore cognitive functioning:


George MoffettJanuary 22nd, 2020 at 11:55 pm

Marijuana is your best option to handle the rough side effects of ECT, i.e. until you get actual remediation with stem cell therapy.

jayJanuary 29th, 2020 at 10:23 pm

I am now decided not to go for ect after reading all the post

JAYJanuary 31st, 2020 at 10:32 pm

after reading all the posts, I came to understand that there are risks involved in the ECT. however: it can be helpful to others in several ways. benefits only last for weeks or months in most cases and there is a need for maintenance therapy once every 2 to 3 weeks. very few people have written a success story as remember one nurse. 100s of thousands of people undergo ECT every year and only a few 100 people complained about it. so definitely it is helping a wast majority of the people.

it is true that memory issue is long-lasting and some times permanent. with regarding the brain damage there is no evidence to display brain damage so far.

as far as I am concerned my depression is paralyzing me socially and into my couch. I can hardly do some dishes and some cooking in the summer. In the winter I am fully paralyzed and lock myself to the couch. what do if I lose some short term memory, depression already caused severely lose my short term memory. I honestly think I should give ECT a try despite the fact that out come is short lived .

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