The Top Three Questions

What follows are the three most frequently asked questions sent via email:

1. Where can I find a facility that gives ECT?

I don’t have a master list of ECT providers. I am concerned, however, that you would be seeking out ECT on your own. It is unlikely that you would find a clinic or hospital that would give you ECT without a doctor’s recommendation.

This is something that should be discussed with your psychiatrist. Your doctor will know of facilities that perform ECT and will give you a recommendation if s/he feels ECT would be beneficial. If you do not have a relationship with a psychiatrist and wish to have ECT, you will have to find a psychiatrist who will fully evaluate you.

2. I had ECT and it was successful. Why is it necessary to put so much negative information on the web?

I am always curious about one thing when I get this question: if ECT was successful, why are you searching the Internet for ECT information? It seems to me that you would simply accept that it worked and move on to other more interesting pursuits. (I do not doubt your enthusiasm, but it’s something that has always puzzled me – I’m interested in responses!)

That said; why NOT put it on the web? I sincerely believe that patients should be told all sides of the ECT story before making their decision. Anything less is unfair and it’s patronizing.

Until recently there appears to have been a general reluctance among psychiatrists to admit that ECT could cause memory or other cognitive problems that are severe, persistent and disabling.” This bold statement comes from a recent article in the British medical journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. (1)

The majority of people who find their way to AFTER ECT are at the very least disappointed. At worst, they’re devastated. If they had known before ECT that it causes a number of side effects (with discouraging efficacy and high relapse rates), they could have at least gone into it armed with information and lowered expectations. It’s less devastating to know the possibilities beforehand than to be caught completely blindsided. The latter leaves patients feeling deceived and swindled. That is much of the reason there is so much anger on the part of ECT patients who have a bad outcome. If they had clearly known the risks, they likely would have made the same decision to have ECT, but would not end up feeling so mislead.

Robertson and Pryor emphasized that “prospective patients should be warned of the significant risk of permanent amnesia and the possibility of permanent memory and cognitive disability.” (2)

You may have had a good outcome, but many do not. The negative side of ECT is discussed on to provide the full set of facts instead of the sanitized version many ECT practitioners choose to supply. Additionally, after a person is left bewildered, with no answers, this site provides a sense of fellowship with others, knowledge that they are not alone.

ECT is NOT a cure and any doctor who sells it as such is guilty of snake-oil salesmanship.

3. I told my doctor I searched the Internet and found information contrary to what s/he told me regarding ECT. His/her response was that the Internet is full of material not based on scientific facts and I should ignore it and stay off the web. Why would s/he be dishonest? What reasons could my doctor possibly have to hide these things from his/her patients?

Two simple answers followed up by more thorough discussion:

1. They are unaware or more commonly, don’t listen to their patients and have their heads in the sand.

2. They are paternalistic and think they know what’s best for you. They know if they provided a full set of facts, some patients would reject ECT.

Neither explanation means that your psychiatrist is a demon or a bad doctor. The very nature of psychiatry is based on paternalism, a view that you are mentally ill and therefore are incapable of decision-making. By removing some of the variables (information), your decision is easier to make. Unfortunately, this point of view is strongly rooted in psychiatry and in the public perception. That doesn’t make psychiatrists bad, just old fashioned and in need of a makeover.


“Persons with mental illness cannot make decisions on their own.” Most are lumped into that category. Yes, there are some individuals who are so ill they cannot function and make a decision. But you are obviously well enough to surf the Internet, to perform a search and find, and you’re well enough to compose an email to me, type in the email address and operate your computer to send the mail. You’re very likely well enough to make an informed decision, based on ALL the facts, not the selected few chosen by the person in charge.

There is a debate within the ECT industry concerning when ECT should be prescribed. Should it be used early in a depressive episode, or saved for those who are the most severely ill, desperate and treatment resistant? One of the leading psychiatrists in the latter camp once said that if a person is well enough to surf the Internet, he or she is not ill enough to consider ECT. (Many would disagree with that statement, but I toss it out as an interesting observation.)

Without a clue

I did a small research study called “Voices” a decade ago. An unsurprising finding from that study was that when ECT patients tell their doctors that they HAVE suffered devastating memory loss and other side effects, the doctors dismiss their complaints. But there was a highly surprising finding: many of those patients get frustrated at their psychiatrists but feel trying to convince them of the existence of the effects is futile. They move on to a new psychiatrist, or give up on psychiatry completely.

That treating psychiatrist, who has already discounted that they had side effects, never sees the individual again. S/he logically assumes that the person got better and moved on. Another success story! And since the doctor had not listened to the patient’s complaints, those complaints are never registered in the psychiatrist’s mind, and therefore, do not exist.

You can make up a variety of scenarios regarding the psychiatrist’s thinking along that path, but the bottom line is that to the psychiatrist, that patient did not have side effects. It’s a misperception, based on a refusal to acknowledge the patient’s complaints, but the doctor probably genuinely does not know it.

The second scenario is of course knowing the truth, but failing to share it. That sounds a bit more devious that I believe it is. I don’t think it’s a case of an evil doctor knowing and not telling because s/he’s a bad person. I think it’s just more of a case of this paternalism I keep talking about, a view that the doctor knows what’s best for you, so why bog you down with too much information, particularly negative information.

Another possibility is that your doctor simply has not kept up with the literature. What your doctor may consider “scientific fact” may be the statistic that has been quoted for many years, that only 1 in 200 persons suffer severe memory loss. Several years ago, that statistic was shown to be, depending on your point of view, either misleading or an outright lie. Harold Sackeim, considered the King of ECT, admitted it on a television show, although it softened the blow by calling the number “Impressionistic.”



1. of or relating to or based on an impression rather than on facts or reasoning; “a surprisingly impressionistic review bearing marks of hasty composition”; “she had impressionistic memories of her childhood”

In more recent writings and testimonies, Mr. Sackeim has said that now it’s known ECT does, in fact, cause severe memory loss much more often than has been acknowledged. In his defense, he said the industry “Just didn’t know,” and that he has been trying to get industry leaders and doctors in the field to acknowledge what is now known.

For seventy years, patients have been reporting the same complaints, but “they just didn’t know.” Sackeim claims that they only discovered the hard science a few years ago.

The information is now out there, it’s being published, and your doctor’s only excuse will soon be that s/he’s not keeping up with current literature.

If your doctor is promoting ECT as a cure for depression, consider that a red flag and get a second opinion. Even the most enthusiastic ECT cheerleaders will tell you it’s most often a temporary fix, one that will require regular treatments indefinitely.


1. Mangaoang, M. & Lucey, J. (2007) Cognitive rehabilitation: assessment and treatment of persistent memory impairments following ECT. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 13, 90-100.

2. Robertson, H. & Pryor, R. (2006) Memory and cognitive effects of ECT: informing and assessing patients. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 12,228-237.

Comments (156)

MaryApril 20th, 2007 at 3:30 pm

I’m approaching my 10th ect. I feel no better, as a matter of fact, I feel more depressed. I feel less than a human being since I’ve gotten ect.

bethApril 26th, 2007 at 8:50 pm

My boyfriend has been in more than out of the hospital for the last six weeks. He never was like this before. yes, he was depressed but everythng just hit him at once and her started to lose his mind and create more and more worries that were not even true. They have tried all the normal meds but nothing is working and he is only able to maintain wellness for less than 24 hours and then relapses back to manic thoughts and actions. Doctors are now suggesting ECT. He remembers his father had it 40 years ago and he is terrified. He father had forgotten how to speak and spent the rest of his life a vegetable. He refuses ECT and I am worried too. yes he is not able to function now but maybe the doctors are furshing things. What should I do?

bethApril 26th, 2007 at 8:51 pm

]’Where did you have this treatment?

NadirApril 29th, 2007 at 6:05 am

I have been suffering from depression for 3 years. I found no one who can cure me. Can you help me out? I read lots of great things about ect. Can you find me a doctor who will give me ect? Please help me out. If you find me a doctor, I will send my prescriptions & fees to him. I will be greatful to you if you do me that favour.

C.M.April 30th, 2007 at 9:54 pm

I am agnostic regarding ECT. However, it seems to me that there is a misconception that a good treatment for depression is one which prevents relapse.

(Full disclosure– I am ABD in psychology, but my research is not in this area, and I do not plan a career as a therapist.)

Of course there are high relapse rates. Depression is an episodic illness. Once the system is dysregulated, it takes very little to cause additional episodes. Unfortunately, with each episode of depression, it becomes increasingly likely that there will be a subsequent episode if the patient survives long enough. That is sad, but true. (Perhaps the mitigating factor is that in most cases, while the depression will return, it also will leave again.) Because ECT typically is reserved for people for whom other non-pharmacological treatments, such as CBT, do not prove effective, and/or for people for whom pharmacological treatments, such as SSRIs are either counter-indicated (e.g., family history of bipolar, but no bipolar in the patient,) or do not work (ironically SSRIs may be least effective for people with the most severe forms of anhedonic depression,) typically it is the people who are most disabled who try ECT.

Treatment comes with risks and costs. For the record, there are risks associated with SSRIs, too. Certainly memory loss is not a laughing matter. It is heartbreaking. However, in many cases, it is less disabling than the illness, especially when the illness is disabling enough to render the patient suicidal. For some people ECT is a lifesaving, miraculous treatrment, while for others it is a source of further heartbreak and loss.

Perhaps someday we will be able to prevent depression’s onset. Unfortunately, for now, that goal is distant. And for those struggling with depression, it is important to be gentle to self and to courageously strive to make the most of life. This is a tremendous challenge, but one worth pursuing.

daniMay 17th, 2007 at 10:23 am

i have been told by my therapist and psychiatrist that ect has had very positive results and is the best treatment for mental disorders, non the less, it is only the last recourse of action. what am i missing here?
one doctor says that because the nazis did alot of research on war victims using ect and it therefore has a bad rep’.

CindyMay 18th, 2007 at 8:10 pm

I am a 49 year old woman who has been receiving ECT treatments for the past year. When I become suicidal, a treatment of 3 episodes is given and then (depending on the length of seizures) I will go on maintenance ECT once a month. It helps with the depression and sometimes puts me in a manic mood. This week I am feeling great and have my monthly treatment coming up next week. I am reluctant to go through with it as I am doing fine. I will agree that there is memory loss, and from what I have been told is this: Ativan and Ambien both can cause memory loss, the anesthia being used to often and lastly the seizure and brain activity can cause it as well. But the risk of memory loss (I take arecept) to help with the memory, far outways the suicidal tendicies that are so severe.

thanks for your time.

MegMay 19th, 2007 at 6:27 pm

I was curious to see if there was any info on the web as to others who did not experience relief from ECT therapy. I am shocked to see that so many others have not felt better. I thought for sure it would be the best cure for me – I have been on meds for 12 years and it is getting to the point where none of them are working. I had 7 ECT treatments and got no relief. I suffered short term memory loss (which is no longer an issue) but found myself unable to learn new things at work.

AndreaMay 19th, 2007 at 10:27 pm

I’ve had 24 ECT treatments now and it has helped tremendously. I went from being very suicidal to nearly normal over the course of a couple of months. I now get maintainance treatments monthly, for about the last 8 months and we are getting ready to stop treatments totally. I’m hoping that I don’t relapse, but if I do, the doc says we will go back to doing treatments monthly/or as necessary. I am ok with this plan. There has been memory loss for sure, but overall I believe the treatments have been very helpful…I’m glad that I’ve had access to ECT treatment. I feel blessed for the intervention.

lauraJune 9th, 2007 at 6:07 pm

i am considering having ECT done… I had an appointment today w/ my psychiatrist and i am considering it- i brought it up to him, not the other way around. I find it funny that the book “Feeling Good” is on this page, b/c it was pure crap when I got it. My first therapist referred me to it b/c i was not yet taking medication and my 2nd therapist told me that they have to refer you to one for insurance purposes. I felt so outraged that this woman, just thought I would get “better” b/c of a book… she also thought i was doing well, but basically i wasn’t telling her everything… but that book is so stupid. I still own it, and so do a bunch of my other friends whose therapists recommended it to them. Just the mere thought that that book is on here, is making it hard for me to take anything on this site seriously.
I have suffered for years w/ depression and anxiety and borderline personality disorder and i hope to get some serious help possibly through ect… i have been on almost every medication there is, including the tri-cyclics… i’m worried about the memory loss, but I want to learn more facts about it from other sources besides this site…

C.M.June 9th, 2007 at 6:18 pm

Laura– You will be in my thoughts. Have you investigated DBT? I think it is the best treatment available for borderline personality disorder. (I made one of the comments above, so you can also see my thoughts on ECT.) DBT has empirical support. I would suggest getting DBT first, if possible, then trying ECT. I hope that things get much better for you.

CindyJune 11th, 2007 at 3:20 pm

What is DBT? I have never heard of it and feel that I need to know all options. I have maintanance ect every three weeks and taking my medication regularly.

C.M.June 11th, 2007 at 10:11 pm

Hi, Cindy–

First of all, I am really impressed that you are taking really good care of yourself– finding treatment that helps and then maintaining it is an accomplishment.

I am glad you asked about DBT. Before I answer, I want to offer a caveat– I am working on a Ph.D. in clinical psych, but I am not a practicing therapist, nor do I intend to be one.

DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It is a treatment developed by Marsha Linehan. (For the record, Linehan has a Ph.D. and is a psychology professor.) DBT often is used as a treatment for folks with borderline personality disorder, but it also may be used with folks who have survived traumas but have not experienced borderline personality disorder, and it may be used with others as well, but I am not knowledgeable about that. DBT is interesting; it combines elements of Eastern philosophy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Research supports DBT as a helpful therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder. I like that DBT helps individuals develop skills for tolerating when life sucks. (Because, let’s face it, there are times when things are lousy and life can be painful.)

Please let me know if you have any further questions, and if I can, I will answer.

I wish you the very best.


CindyJune 13th, 2007 at 4:10 pm

Thank you CM for answering and giving me such supportive feedback. Is this treatment available and how would I go about tracking someone who treats with this. I am in the process of lowering the dosage of my medications and find that I am more involved in my surroundings and give opinions and have kinda come out of my shell and finding that I have feelings, some good some not so good and need support to provide me with self-esteem and not to clam up when the tough things come along.

Do you know of any doctors that utilize this treatment in San Antonio, Texas?

CindyJune 13th, 2007 at 4:24 pm

For those of you that are looking for releif from depression and have heard about ECT, there are several groups that may be able to pass on the information of a doctor that provides ect treatment.

DBSA – depression bi-polar support group in SA
NAMI – National alliance for mental illness
Prosumers – advocates for peole with mental illness

This is just a few of support groups that might be able to help.

JanetJune 18th, 2007 at 10:39 am

I just had 3+ weeks of inpatient care and e.c.t. I have been on drug therapy for 14+ years. I am drug resistent and even when taking 14 anti-depressants a day, I was still depressed. I needed to take 2 sabbaticals from work, when I got to the point I couldn’t get out of bed. I am educated, past the masters level. When I moved back to NE, my new doctor suggested I see the head psychiatrist at Beth Israel N.E. Deaconess in Boston. Anyone who feels they want to explore
e.c.t. options, could call Dr. Kerry Bloomingdale 1-627-667-4728 (617-632-8343). I saw him, he agreed that I could benefit from e.c.t. and I did. I don’t know why it worked, but it did. I am much more like my old self, much calmer and basically not depressed. I may need maintenance e.c.t.’s, but I hope not. I don’t know about long term effects, they do worry me. So far my short term memory loss amounts to a day when I couldn’t remember how to spell (example: describe). That has come back to me. My life was not worth living. E.C.T. has made me feel 100% better. I am taking only 1 anti-depressant a day (Cymbalta) and a sleeping pill (Trazadone). I was extremely frightened of the treatments, but I am glad I did them.

mahinJune 24th, 2007 at 2:56 pm

I had ect thrapy and I am suffering from bigger problems like sex and memory loss. The life time problem is sex…….I dont know why they given me ect but it has taken away my freedom of thinking thus i am like a vegetable nothing more than that. I am living alone have no friends (I use to have many) now I cant coupe with them.

Those who are thinking to have ECT think again for 1000 times.I lost my happines and this treatment should be banned.

C.M.June 25th, 2007 at 7:23 am


I have been out of town, so I apologize for not getting a chance to reply sooner.

I do not personally know anybody practicing in San Antonio, but I did look at the DBT website’s find a therapist search engine:

I did not see anybody in San Antonio, BUT you may have success finding someone who is trained in DBT by contacting a therapist who is trained in DBT and asking for a referral, OR it may be possible to find someone with DBT training by phoning some area therapists and asking if they are trained in it. I wish I had a better, more helpful answer.

Please let me know how it goes. You’ll be in my thoughts.


C.M.June 25th, 2007 at 7:42 am

Dear Mahin,

I am very sorry to read about how difficult things are for you right now.

It does not sound as though things were going well before the ECT, so maybe the ECT is not to blame for all of your problems? (Though perhaps some?) I am allergic to codeine, but just because that medicine does not work for me, that does not mean I think it should be banned. Some people do benefit from it.

More importantly, though, it sounds as though you are really suffering right now. I am genuinely sorry to hear it, and I hope that things will get better.

If you can, maybe it would help to make a list of a few things you enjoy or used to enjoy, (my list would include walking my dog, making key lime pie, finding funny stuff on, doing sudoku puzzles, and listening to music that makes me feel good/I can sing along,) then do one thing off of the list each day. It can be small stuff, and it might not feel good at first, but keep doing it. (And if you miss a day, then get back to it the very next day.) Over time, it might help.

I am guessing that you are seeing a therapist. Having a good therapist can make a world of difference. If you aren’t seeing a therapist right now, it sounds as though it would be a good idea– a good therapist may be able to help you cope better.


RachelJune 25th, 2007 at 6:04 pm

I’ve received 3 ECT treatments within the last week. Out of desperation I had decided to try it since meds and therapy alone were not working. Thus far, I don’t feel there’s been an improvement. I am still having thoughts of harming myself and all I want to do is cry. If ECT is going to work, how many treatments does it take? I’m at a loss of what to do.

C.M.June 25th, 2007 at 9:05 pm

Dear Rachel,

Here is an answer that is of limited help: It varies. Odds are very good that you will start to feel better– in the meantime, grit your teeth, and channel your energy into being brave, brave enough to hold on until the treatments start helping and/or the depressive episode lifts enough to be tolerable.

I know it is a very difficult job to endure a severe depression, but remember that you are waiting out a storm, a storm of depression, and that the sun will shine for you again– you just have to wait out that storm. It sounds like you are doing a great job of doing your part– refraining from hurting yourself, getting treatments, trying new things to help improve how you are doing. It may not feel like as big of an accomplishment as it is, but it is a tremendous accomplishment. Keep up the bravery.

(And if you feel in danger of harming yourself, pleaase talk with your therapist about strategies and tactics to help you manage that things are sucking right now. A good therapist may not make the suckiness go away, but can help you find ways to tolerate the lousiness until things get better.)

Wishing you much improvement soon,

ElaineJuly 3rd, 2007 at 1:06 am

I looked up this site to get info for my cousin who is scheduled for ECT soon. She is fearful and hopeful at the same time. The one thing we both have had in common for the last 35 years is depression. She has gotten progressively worse and fortunately, for me, it is GONE. Years ago Elavil was prescribed. It was horrible. No memory there either! No one told me. There were other side affects also. The next several years I suffered alone as I swore I would never take any drugs again. In the end, HOMEOPATHY was the answer. It works on a cellular level and I have been depression free for close to 15 years!! No more suicidal thoughts or hospitalizations. Remedies are taken subligually with no side affects. I wish I could encourage everyone to try Homeopathy. Even my cousin. It is slower than drugs but it sure has lasted longer. After reading everyone’s comments, I have no idea how to advise her. Thanks and stay in the light to you all.

DebbyJuly 19th, 2007 at 9:07 am

My son has been bi-polar most of his adult life. He is now 29 years old has attempted suicide several times, thank-god unsuccessfully!! His father is bi-polar and an alcholic and I have suffered from major depression and been hospitalized several times myself. My son has been hospitalized more times than I can count, 3 times in the past 8 months alone. His longest period of “normalness” was when he was involved with a woman who had a baby he was helping to raise. She left him after 3 years in January and since then he has been unble to function at all. He has been unable to maintain a job for very long. He was hospitalized 3 weeks ago after again becoming suicidal and it was decided he would recieve ECT. He has received approx. 7 treatments so far, I am just concerened he is looking at this as a cure all and will be disappointed and feel he’s out of options!! Also he is no longer on any kind of medications after years of Lithium and anti-depressants. I can’t help but feel very cautious about his future. I feel helpless as a parent.

smithJuly 27th, 2007 at 11:58 pm

This site has helped me. thanks.

JanetJuly 28th, 2007 at 9:15 am

I find it a little bit demeaning to compare
my looking at the site to dissatisfaction with E.C.T. For me it worked. I don’t think it is wrong at all for a person to seek out an E.C.T. facility. For me, I went into a major Boston hospital – affliated with Harvard, and I did need to see the head shrink at the hospital before I could be admitted for the treatments. He decided, along with my regular doctor, that it was the appropriate treatment. In the end though, I decided myself that my life was not worth living in the state I was in. I am drug resistent and I went through 14 years of trying one pill after the other. At one point, I took 14 various anti-depressents a day! I was still depressed. I have tried homeopathic, vitamin, improved diet, exercise, and any thing else I could find. Nothing worked. I was trying to work when I couldn’t finish a sentence because I was so screwed up from the drugs. It was embarrassing and made me even more depressed. I can’t say I am 100% cured. I still take an anti-depressent and I still get a little blue. I am, however, 100% better. I don’t think the e.c.t.’s are as bad as they used to be. They know a lot more. I did have some short term memory loss, but my losses have come back.

JanetJuly 28th, 2007 at 9:20 am

To Debby. Most people need 10 or more E.C.T.’s to get better. Some people need maintenance treatments for a long term. I started to feel a lot better after 6 treatments, and pretty darn good after 10. Why isn’t he on any meds? Is he bi-polar? In the hospital, I stayed on some of my drugs, but they weaned me off most of them. I thought bi-polar people always stayed on bi-polar medicine. The bi-polar people I was with, did continue their meds, but most were on Geodon – 1 was on Lithium. The one on Lithium did receive E.C.T. He had some problems with headaches. The problem lasted until after the treatments were done. Then they stopped. He did have a sinus infection, so maybe that worsened his headache.

sarahJuly 29th, 2007 at 11:33 pm

Wow. I don’t think you are really giving an unbiased full set of facts regarding ECT treatment…possibly discouraging many people who it may help. I am sorry that you had a bad experience. But like medications, ECT is not a 100% cure. No one in the psychiatric world claims that it is. Of course it won’t work for some people. However, on a risk:benefit ratio, it has helped more than harmed.

I don’t think there are 100% effective treatments for very many diseases. If you want to give a full set of facts, as you claim, I suggest you talk to some people who have benefited from ECT before you dedicate a .org website to overemphasizing poor treatment outcomes.

sarahJuly 29th, 2007 at 11:36 pm

Oh yeah…in regards to one looking up information rather than just accepting that it works…there is no logical rationale for your statement. People who care about themselves look up information about treatment options all the time…why do you think WebMD exists?

DaveJuly 30th, 2007 at 12:20 am

“why do you think WebMD exists?”

Uhhh, perhaps to help the parent company earn just shy of a billion dollars a year? You don’t think a lot of that doesn’t come from big pharma and insurance companies? Oh right, one of its sister corporations manufactures plastics used in…..hmmm, health products.

No conflict there.

JanetJuly 30th, 2007 at 5:12 am

Who funds this site?

C.M.July 30th, 2007 at 8:09 am


How are you doing? Have you been able to find a DBT-qualified person near you?

You’ve been in my thoughts.


RachelJuly 30th, 2007 at 8:22 am

I’ve been having ECT now for several weeks. I’ve been noticing more and more memory loss with each consecutive treatment. When will my memory come back? I must have my memory back for my classes this fall!!!! I’m not paying for classess only to forget everything!

JuliJuly 30th, 2007 at 9:47 am

Janet, I fund this site, and associated sites (the message board, etc.) out of my own pocket.

I sell some amazon books to help towards costs, but it doesn’t pay for it all. Most of it comes out of my bank account.

My funding (or lack thereof) is disclosed on one of the pages.

JanetJuly 30th, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Wow! That is really commendable.

CindyAugust 4th, 2007 at 11:03 am


Yes I have found a person who practices DBT, and I am seeing her 2 times a week currently. She really is wonderful. I think alot of good will come out of us working together. I stopped seeing my other therapist, it was not working for me any longer.

How have you been? I hope that life is happy and you are not struggling. Thank you for being there for me.


LoriAugust 9th, 2007 at 8:49 pm

I am glad that I happened on this site. My grandmother may be getting this treatment for dementia and paranoia. I am very nervious and worried about the effects that is will have on her. Is there any other common side effects besides memory loss??

JanetAugust 10th, 2007 at 6:59 am

Rachel, I am a school teacher. The memory problem was a real concern for me. ECT was once explained to me as a method of stopping some painful memories, and when the memories return to you, supposedly they come back one at a time, so you can deal with them separately. I don’t know if that’s true in my case. I lost some spelling ability, but it has mostly come back. I had the ECT in May. I am unable to concentrate for a long time – example it has been difficult to sit and read a book for long periods. I am getting better about that. I think that was a depression problem too. Did you find studying harder and harder when you were depressed? Was it hard to keep your mind on one subject? Do you think the ECT has actually erased parts of your intellect? I don’t have a lot of motivation now, but I think that’s the depression too. Let us know how you do.

Has anyone read any of the new research on magnet therapy for depression? I am going to ask my doctor about it.

SandraAugust 17th, 2007 at 4:52 pm

I underwent ECT treatment over 12 years ago. I am still very much up in the air as to if the cure outweighs the memory loss.

I was catatonic and medications were doing no good except to make me ill and look like a walking zombie. At the time ECT seemed to be the only option. I was told the memory loss was only short term and didn’t last. I’m not sure how many treatments I went through…well over 15. It did help with the depression. There is no denying that.

But there are big chunks of my memory gone. Long term memory. (And maybe some of that is a good thing -painful memories are gone) But my family will say things like,
“don’t you remember when”…and I don’t remember-as hard as I try. There are also little things – like not being able to remember a movie. I have to watch it again and then it feels almost as if a dream were starting to come true as the movie unfolds itself. It comes back to me at the same time I am seeing it. It is a very weird sensation.

I can’t function without writing notes…lots and lots of notes. I am a manager and I know the only reason (besides God)that I can function in this capacity is because I take pages and pages of notes. I suffer from migraine headaches, extreme muscle and neck pain and have developed fibromyalgia. Is this all connected to ECT? I don’t know – but it is something I ask myself. Maybe the connection is to being bipolar…I don’t know.

What I do know is ect DOES affect more than just short term memory loss. They say tests have been done on animals – but how do you measure an animal’s brain up to a human beings? They can’t talk and tell you what they are feeling or what they remember or don’t remember.

It is a very serious thing to mess around with the human brain like that. I state again…I’m not sure if the cure outweighs the memory loss.

JimAugust 21st, 2007 at 2:39 pm

I am 46 and suffered from insomnia and severe depression for 2 and a half years. I have been on 6 or 7 trails of meds.
I am feeling worse everyday. I am seeking the ECT and do have hopes that it will help. Are the side effects (short term memory loss) worth the benifit of feeling better? Do you have more energy and motivation after the ECT procedure?

SandraAugust 21st, 2007 at 4:42 pm

Dear Jim:

You are completely disorientated after ECT. I felt completely helpless. I would go from one room to the next in my house with the purpose of going for something and end up standing in the middle of the room not knowing what the heck I was doing there. I couldn’t even remember from one thought to the next…whatever I was thinking about would just disappear. I couldn’t work…I did accounting – how in the world could I work with numbers when I couldn’t even remember what I was thinking?

The reason I got over my depression is because the ECT treatments made me realize what was depressing me. It was my verbally abusive relationship. I would have ECT and “get better” – only to have my husband “beat” me down – to getting an ECT treatment and getting better – to having my husband beat me down etc. I had to come to the realization that NOTHING was more important than my health. And ECT was affecting my health…just as much as the depression did.

It was the two years of cognitive therapy (along with medications) I had after the treatments that enabled me to break out of the cycle of ECT and depression. Would I have realized what was causing my depression without the ECT? I’m not sure. All I do know is that I did not want to have ECT and feel the way I did during it for the rest of my life. It just wasn’t an option.

I have had two more hospitalizations for depression since then. But I have never, ever considered ECT as an option again.

UrsoAugust 31st, 2007 at 5:23 am

I am a chronically depressed 46-year-old man. (I have been told “chronic depression” is not a sound scientific term because depression is recurrent, but since I have had at best a few “less depressed” periods in over a decade, I believe it is very accurate term!) And I am completely alone. Parents are dead, no siblings, no spouse, few and distant friends who cannot help.

Depression has destroyed my professional career and forced me to switch to another, less profitable and less secure one. I am currently working from home, because I cannot go away from home for very long without getting phobic anxiety or panic. (In fact, I do not even have a proper “home,” since I live in a modest rented room and can no longer afford to have a real home of my own.) But even that is at risk because there are few days when I can actually do some work. So, I am not only distressed and suffering, but my economic survival is at risk, and bleak misery is not an exaggerated fear but a real possibility in the short- to mid-term!

I have been taking antidepressants for years, and some of them helped for a while, but either they had to be discontinued for intolerable toxic effects or simply ceased to work. Some others never worked at all. I have tried almost every possible drug in the market, and countless treatment schemes. Nothing seems to work any more, so ECT is now being considered as the last desperate option. And I am trying to get informed so as to decide whether or not to take it.

My clinical psychiatrist (I cannot afford a therapist) is very humane and very ethical, and is even more reluctant to employ ECT than I am. I am becoming less resistant to the idea, because I am starting to realize that in my case, there are very serious risks in NOT taking it, too. But I am finding it very hard to find objective, reliable information.

I can see enthusiastic supporters, but with suspicious connections. I can see enraged opponents, but they are almost invariably too emotionally biased to be objective. And most of the patient recounts I see, both positive and negative, talk about either too recent experiences or, on the contrary, so far away in the past that they probably have been subjected to ECT in a different form from what I would take. Worse still, they seem to think that because their own experience was good or bad, EVERYONE should embrace or run away from ECT, as the case may be.

This is very confusing. It is clear to me that ECT is very good to some people, but very bad to others – just like any other medical treatment. But nowhere could I find any numbers to help me assess my chances and risks – for example, what exactly are the odds that I will get severe memory loss, and to what degree (except that 1/200 cipher that is now held as a phallacy), or what are the chances that I will relapse after some time and start everything all over again.

This lack of any consensus or objectiveness is frustrating. In the end, my decision will be made just out of either desperation or a throw of dice. What else can I do, with the quality (or lack thereof) of the information I am getting?

On a last note, I am Brazilian and live in São Paulo, the country’s largest city (with many very good physicians and hospitals). So, my mother tongue is Portuguese, but obviously I have a good knowledge of English as well. Luckily, that enabled me to make that life-saving career switch I mentioned – from being a well-paid systems analyst to a barely surviving translator. But it is obvious that memory is critical to my work. See how difficult it is to decide?

Thanks anyway for your patience in letting me vent out my frustration.

CindyAugust 31st, 2007 at 5:11 pm


I want to tell you that ect will not work just because you have one treatment. The first treatment is scary due to not knowing what will happen. I had 15 treatments 3 per week to get me started, then when we saw improvement, we went to 1 a week, and now I am on a “maintenance” program 1 every 3 weeks. The memory loss is minimal and I try to repeat or write down things that mean something to me and read it over so I don’t forget. I do have a big concern in that you said you have no one (family or friends) and it is important to have someone to drive you home after the treatment and stay with you for a few hours until you know how it affected you.

I get migraine headaches after each treatment because my BP jumps high during treatment. The doctor now gives me something to bring it down so the headaches aren’t so severe.

All I can offer you is that I was “chronically depressed with bi-polar and I often tried to do self harm. For the first time in my life, the depresion is gone (I still get some bad days) but waking up and wanting to do things and go places and the pain in my soul is gone, the ECT treatments have been very helpful. I hope that you find peace in whatever decision you make and the people on this web site are here for you. Take care, Cindy

C.M.August 31st, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Dear Cindy,

I am hanging in there! :)

I really enjoyed reading what you wrote to Urso. I am happy to hear that you are doing so well! :)

Dear Urso,

You will be in my thoughts. I know that you are struggling. You have my very best wishes for the best possible recovery.

UrsoAugust 31st, 2007 at 7:50 pm

Thanks, Cindy and C.M. for your kind words. Cindy, I know that one treatment is not enough, but if I decide to do it, I hope I will not need too many because I know that increases the severity of the memory loss. There are many things in my life that I would gladly forget, but unfortunately one cannot choose what will be forgotten, as in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”… In fact, if I could forget a few selected things, at least half of my problems would be solved…

However, I was very struck earlier this year, as a good friend had cranial trauma after being hit by a speeding car and got severe retrograde amnesia. He does not know who I am, and it hurts a lot to know that the man is alive, but the dear friend he used to be is dead… I hope I never come to that point!

Yes, I am alone, but part of it comes from my own self-isolation, and another part just from the hectic of living in a very large city, that tends to fend off people (the São Paulo metropolitan area has 18 million people!). Over the years, depression has made me lose all socializing skills and opportunities, as well as the mere wish to socialize. But I still have perhaps one or two local friends who could assist me on the days of treatment.

They have to be both available and reliable, because here ECT still carries a lot of stigma and should not be exactly advertised. The comments would fly: “You see, Urso is so nuts that he even got electroshocks!” One could easily become a social and professional leper because of that. But that is not going to prevent me from doing it, if I decide so.

Thanks a lot for your support!

AndreaSeptember 1st, 2007 at 6:47 pm


It is obviuos that you are a very intelligent and analytical person. Reading SHOCK The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Theraphy by Kitty Dukakis and Larry Tye (2006 Penguin Group) might help you. It is the most data driven writing on ECT that I have found, and it gives the current state of art of the treatment (286 pages).

I have relied on my mind for a living too, as I am a Ph.D. scientist. I sustained 25 ECT treatments with with some memory loss. Rolling with the punchs, I am fine, and still practice in my career. The trade-offs were well worthwhile. Yeah, my memory is not what is was, and there are holes, but that deep down old stuff we learned is still there, and man, is my DEPRESSION SO MUCH BETTER. My life is so much better.

Good luck with your choice. I wish you the best.

Mary KSeptember 8th, 2007 at 8:35 am

Mary K / Thanks CM. This website has been somewhat helpful for me. I am currently working as a registered nurse. Yesterday, I volunteered to work in our psyche dept, bcuz they are currently having staffing problems. I was able to observe ect treatments on 3 patients. I am now searching for more info on the topic, to investigate if I want to be involved in this at all. It helps me to hear all of your comments. I felt intimidated being a part of the procedures yesterday, but my motivation was to help and I do have a personal interest in the psychiatric world for several reasons. I truly believe that psychiatric ills cause some of the worst pain for patients and family. I have a brother who is undiagnosed and has never gotten help for his psyche problem. What problem? He doesn’t have one {according to him}. To make a long story short, I have witnessed his pain and it has been a source of tremendous heartache for me. I have been at a loss as to how to help him. I do stay in contact with him and offer some financial support. I have personally suffered with some depression and anxiety myself, so I know what that is like. Blessings to all of you and may you find the help you are looking for….sincerely Mary ary

JanetSeptember 8th, 2007 at 9:27 am

I “did” the DBT therapy (Marsha Linehan). I was very disappointed in it. I know it did not help me. Other people in the class felt they were getting something out of it though.

JanetSeptember 8th, 2007 at 9:30 am

I had 10 e.c.t. treatments. Mine worked. But I got an email from a man who had gone through the treatment with me – he is suing the hospital and doctors. He said he ended up with brain damage and is unable to work. He’s bi-polar, and I am not sure if that is the real problem. He says he is having major headaches. He is not forthcoming with too many of his other symptoms. He mentioned his medicine was making him sick too.

barbroSeptember 18th, 2007 at 7:11 am

I live in Sweden and I am a bipolar and have been treated with lithium and antidepr since 25 years. Last year I have been fallen into a deep depression without any help of new drugs, KBT and Mindfullness. After 6 month I decided to try ect after discussion with my doctor and after reading good and sufficient information. When I was sedated before my first ect I remember that I was crying, I didn´t want to live anymore. When I woke up I got for a second a feeling of joy. It had been gone for so long.
After 5 ect I felt good and could go home.
I have also some memorylosses but it´s not so bad and I can cope whith that.
Now I´m most afraid of a relapse (everybody is talking about it) and I ask my self every day if the depression is coming back.
My second struggle is to return to my work. I dont know my stability and my capability to deal whith stress.
I am afraid!

CindySeptember 23rd, 2007 at 9:53 pm

barbro, treatment for bi-polar is a struggle, but it sounds that you have an open communication with your doctor. If the ECT’s made life a beter place, then ask your doctor to do maintenance ECTS (1 every 5-6 weeks) That is what I do but I do them every 3 weeks. The memory loss sometimes get me down, but nothing compared to what I was feeling before.

It’s okay to be afraid, that shows that you have feelings and we are here to support you. You are strong and we’re behind you what ever it is you need.

Be safe and good luck. Talk to your doctor.

engraciaSeptember 25th, 2007 at 10:24 am

i am a 55 yr old female who has been in treatment since 13 yrs old. Am bi-polar and DID. DID manifested first. Long hospitalizations and perpetual therapy and phychiatric treatment.
I am so desparate when I have an episode My shrink suggested I go into hospital again. I reply that it wont do any more than i could do by doing big meds at home, where I can at least sleep in a comfortable bed and watch tv when i want. I brought up ECT as the only reason I would go into the hospital. When I get like this i just want a lobotomy. I almost got one when i was 20 yrs old.

Recently have experienced memory loss. I want to hang a sign around my neck saying “please finish my sentence Very tough to talk to anyone on the phone “customer service personelle”
due to same loss. My meds are really not working. So I seem to be having the stmem loss that comes from ECT anyway. I think it probably comes from long term meds. When my shrink recommends more/different meds
my response is that it seems to me that the meds “work” during the positive episodic time frame of my illness. I still have episodic depression, meds or no meds. I suppose I could try going off all meds to see if there is any difference. That seemed too scary previously but now it doesnt seem too bad since i am considereing ETC.Have to come off Lithium, and all benzodiazapines before Tx.

I know I am rambling.Sorry. The site has been very

CindySeptember 25th, 2007 at 3:31 pm


It sounds that you are having a very difficult, lonely, and confused time. I can tell in your writing that you are at your wits end.

How many ECTs have you had? Have you had any in 10 sessions just days apart. Then try a maintenance schedule of every 3-4 weeks until you feel relief. I don’t think quiting your meds is a good idea when you are in a desparate time. Perhaps talking to your doctor about some new ones. I tried all the anti-depressanats and bi-polar meds litheum and depacote, and I am finally on some that have been working eith the ects. I take geodon, carbratol, and serequel along with ativan. See what your doctor thinks of this drug combination. Until your next visit, I will be thinking of you and wishing you releif from this unhappy situation.

DianaOctober 5th, 2007 at 8:53 pm

I just finished my 7th ECT treatment today. So far I haven’t had any confusion or memory loss. I wake up from the ECT alert. Does the confusion and memory loss usually just occur during the treatment or can it come after you are finished? I was still crying a lot after my second ECT and asked my doctor to change from unilateral to bilateral. I understood that bilateral works better but the possibility of side effects is greater. In between my 4th and 5th ECT I experienced something that I had not known since the late 80′s; happiness. I actually wanted to do something on purpose. Not just for others so I could hide my illness. What a strange feeling. I am making a list of things I might like to do! I have 3 more ECT treatments. I would also like to add that my doctor is the head of the psychiatrical ward of the large hospital that I have the ECT in, he is also was a past president of our regional area a American Psychiatric Association and in addition my personal psychiatric doctor. He is the first doctor of many that has let me be pro-active in my treatment. I might add that I had moderate memory loss and cognitive skill disfunction way before the ECT. Sometimes I can’t even talk write and have what I call word salad. My meds are 600mg Seroquel, 450mg Wellbutrin, 400mg Lamictal, 100mg Topomax and .10mg Adivan. Needless to say my depression is severe and my current episode has lasted over a year. I am a rapid cycler with generally more than 12 switches a year. The manic episodes last only 2-3 weeks and go straight to depression. I can go from severe depression one day to a manic episode the next. It’s as fast as toast popping out of the toaster.

DianaOctober 5th, 2007 at 8:59 pm

I forgot to ask another question. I asked my doctor why I didn’t have any confusion or memory loss and he said it was partly because I have a good baseling. I can’t find any information on this. Anyone out ever hear of this? And a last comment of the memory loss from the meds; my teenagers try to use it to their advantange. They are always saying I said something to them that required a yes when I know I would have said no. They say “I forgot!”

JanetOctober 7th, 2007 at 10:28 am

I asked my doctor about why I didn’t have any real memory loss (a little- the few days before I went in for treatment), he said that the newer shock therapy is very different from the stuff that they did in the past. He said most people do not have permanent memory loss problems (a Boston hospital- one of the best for e.c.t. – maybe that makes a difference).
Diana, you take a lot of medication. I do too. Does any of it work at all for you? I am drug resistent and nothing works. I took as many as 14 anit-depressers a day and was still depressed.
I think I have been on everything out there. I am not manic depressive though, “just” depressed.
Good luck. It’s great you work so well with your doctor and he doesn’t just tell you what to do.

barbroOctober 11th, 2007 at 7:51 am

Thanks Cindy for supporting comments.

About memory loss, I´m not sure that I have got any. I even remember the initial anesthetic process and the moment I woke up. Perhaps there are some cognitive problems but I can´t really feel it. I have only got unipolar ECT and totally 6 treatments. Maybe problems occur later on?

Since last time I became depressive again and my doctor proposed one more ECT which I got with very good effect. My thought is now to try maintenance ECT (thanks Cindy) and, for now, continue whith my meds, Lithium, Lamictal, Efexor.
I feel more safe and content now.

engraciaOctober 18th, 2007 at 10:13 pm

Sorry I havent responded to all the helpful emails.
I am thankful to have found a community of sorts that at least knows what this is like. I don’t feel like I have the worst life in the world either.
(Oh, Diana – I am glad you have a good doc because you really rapid cycle.) My hospitalization was at McLean in Belmont,MA in the 60s and 70s.
I am currently on less meds, and my cognitive deficits and aphasia and memory problems have gotten
much much better. Dont know if it is due to feeling less depressed or because i have reduced my meds somewhat. Isnt this a crap shoot? I think it is amazing that any of us are alive.
I finally settled on just taking things
VERY easy, and not trying to make up for lost time or prove that i’m not worthless. This approach has been quite successful.
Hang in there, Ya’ll/ You’ll surely hear me crying in the near future.

eric yOctober 25th, 2007 at 7:04 pm

The comments here are quite interesting and informative. My good friend Dr. Jay Whitlow has written a paper regarding the usage of convulsive treatments in ancient cultures. Dr. Whitlow has found evidence of some cultures that employed various techniques and chemicals to treat some of the more disturbed members of their societies. I will try and locate Dr. Jay Whitlow’s work as whitlow is quite a unique researcher in this area.
eric y

CindyNovember 26th, 2007 at 4:34 pm

I am very much a believer of ECT and have been having treatments for over a year. I began getting migraine headaches and went to the doctor to find out that I have had 2 strokes. We don’t know that the ECT treatments had anything to do with it but I can’t cut that it happened around the time of treatments. Until further testing and diagnosis, they have decided not to do any treatments. It appears that my bloodpressure medication played a part in it and that I am having verispasms in my neck. They changed my BP medication that has helped to stop the spasms.

So it is up to me whether to continue with my treatments. I can tell that slowly I am falling and the depression and outbursts are coming back strong. I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions?

DonnaDecember 1st, 2007 at 12:11 am

I just turned 40 and have suffered with extreme depression and bipolar disorder since I was a young teen. I have been hospitalized numerous times, but, as the years go by , so does the length of time between hospitalizations. I have not been in a hospital since 2003. I have been in a deep, dark depression for more than 8 weeks. I had suicidal thoughts which have thankfully subsided. I am on medications but they do not seem to work any longer, no matter how my psychiatrist titrates them. I finally felt I was at a palce last year that I could pursue my dream of going to college. I enrolled and for two semesters carried a 4.0. Eight weeks ago when my depression reached a debilitating point, I had to withdraw from all my classes. I do not associate with my friends, I am irritable, and the things I usually do, I do not do anymore. I feel immobilized and stuck in this depression.

My psychiatrist and my therapist have recommended ECT as an option. I am supposed to meet with a psychiatrist that actuallt performs ECT here in my area on December 5th. I am terrified. I have an amazing memory. Sometimes that is a good things, sometimes it’s not – but it’s still not something I want to lose. I don’t want to have a seizure, controlled or not. I am afraid that if I have ECT, I will no longer be able to learn at college and I will lose my dream. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to stay stuck in this depression, yet – after reading all I have about ECT – from various places- I just am not comfortable with what I am hearing.

If anyone has ANY advice, it would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks for having such a site to come to.

- Donna

AndreaDecember 1st, 2007 at 6:13 pm

Hi Donna,

I wanted to comment on my experience with ECT and learning. Yes, my memory was effected by the 25 treatments I had – there are holes/gaps in my memory (3 that I know of) plus a few instances during treatment where I couldn’t remember how to get to a certain hiking trail or friends house- these memories did come back – and I can easily get where I want to go now, but these things did happen to me, and scared me…and made me think…this sucks…I can’t believe this has happened…).

I am a Ph.D. scientist, so mental function is very important to me. While I did loose some memories, my ability to learn has not been altered by ECT. I learn just as well as ever, if not better. I am back on the job and learning very effectively.

In my experience, ECT is worth the costs/consquences/short term memory imparement. You do not lose your ability to learn.

DonnaDecember 1st, 2007 at 6:33 pm

Andrea -

Thank you for your comments. It is reassuring to know you did not lose your ability to learn.
Wishing you the best~

DaniDecember 7th, 2007 at 1:38 pm

Wow, I am very glad I found this page (while awaiting my membership approval). It offers a lot of points of view.

I am going in for my 16th (I think) treatment (all outpatient) on Monday. I had an aggressive start, about 3 per week for about 6 weeks, then they weaned me down to 1 every 3-4 weeks. Now I’m on maintenance. This all started in July. I’ve been suffering from severe depression for at least 10 years. Probably 30+ medications.

My husband sees a lot of improvement. I see some. Still a huge lack of motivation. I still take my oral meds, but have reduced them down to 3 or 4. To my knowledge, I have only had one bilateral treatment; did this ever kick my butt with recovery. I think I got better results from it, though. Does anybody have any input on uni vs. bi lateral? I know bi has more side effects, memory loss, etc., but are there any proven benefits of one over the other? If I can get better faster w/ the bi’s, then why not?

Two more questions:
1) How long does it take you all to recover? I’m usually out the entire day, sometimes 2. Is that severe?

2) HOW do you get over the SHAME?? This is the biggest secret (only my husband knows, and I’d probably try to hide it from him if he wasn’t my chauffer and nurse!)I’ve ever had…

Also, I can’t seem to find a remedy for the TERROR I feel before a treatment, either. The doc and staff are awesome, I come out feeling ok, but am just so freaked out days ahead of time (hello, already freaking and it’s 3 1/2 days away).

Best to you all…keep fighting

SueDecember 15th, 2007 at 9:01 am

I have severe bipolar disorder and after many years of medication changes, I was able to get the mania under control. Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky with the depression. I tried every anti-depressant out there and got the same result…a manic episode.

I received a round of ECT treatments 2 years ago. I was terrified and didn’t even know this was an option. THANK GOD I did it or I don’t think I’d be here anymore. The effects were close to miraculous. I did have some memory loss, about 2 months of loss. After my third treatment, I was a different person. I actually felt “normal” for the first time that I could remember.

Now, facing a divorce, an ugly custody battle, and the holidays, I found myself severely depressed again. My doctors wanted me to go inpatient, but I saw no point, as we already know medications don’t work for me, so I suggested another round of ECT and they all agreed.

I just finished my third treatment and I’m already starting to feel better. It is not an easy option. Having to be at the hospital at 6am every-other morning, not being able to drive, the headaches & muscle aches, the memory loss, and the stigma. But it is all worth it for me (and my family).

Dani—I’m usually out a day or two as well. I don’t find it shameful. You are doing what you need to do to help yourself and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s not your fault you have this illness. However, I don’t announce it either. I am the VP of my kids’ PTA and they think I have pneumonia, except for those I am close to. I take Klonopin for anxiety and I sometimes need more to help with the fear right before a treatment.

Good Luck to all of you!

david turnbullJanuary 7th, 2008 at 7:00 pm

i have been receiving ECT since august , this treatment while it has effected my short term memory some ( wasnt very good b4 it) it has nothing short of been a complete miricle , i had tried all the pills to no avail , i had given up , i went in to the hospital last time beging for something diffrent to happen or i was going to comitt suicide4 after they let me out ( i knew how to play the game to get out ) , they started me on ect and it helped today 7 months later i feel human again ,not depressed i have a wonderfull future and i am happy , i cant say enought good about this but i felt i had to say something ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, David

eric yJanuary 7th, 2008 at 8:50 pm

david, your success story is so encouraging. if we only could do such a good match betwee patients and treatment all the time it would be great. my friend whitlow has heard from several people in the last month that have received ect and jay says this is verification that the treatment is still being actively used. jay whitlow and i appreciate your letting us all know of your great success. and anyway, all of us here seem to have short term memory issues most days!
eric y

MikeJanuary 10th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Dear C.M I read all your advises and diagnoses through this page enthusiastically.I ve got some urgent and vital problems about myseLf about bpd that i can’t tell publicly and can’t deal with.Is there any way that u can contact me through msn or e-mail ? I would very much appreciate if u can advise me something about my problem.


david turnbullJanuary 10th, 2008 at 3:43 pm

thanks for the coments , i am a beleiver in this treatment despite the memory issue , i am also a chronic pain sufferer and have wondered/ heard this treatment is being used for chronic pain treatment ???? does anyonje have any info on this if so i can be contacted at feel free to write even if it is for other reasons i have been thru some pretty bad times and would love to offer support to others going thru what i have been thru ,,,,,,, thanks Dave

C. M.January 10th, 2008 at 6:56 pm

Hi, Mike–

I am honored my thoughts have been useful. However, I am not a therapist, so I am not the best bet if there is something urgent going on. I recommend talking with a real therapist– not an academe like me. If it is an emergency, and especially if you need help keeping yourself (or another loved one) safe, please please please phone your therapist– and if you don’t have a therapist, then your regular MD is a good second choice. (An emergency room is third choice.)

That said, I will be happy to offer my thoughts on whatever you do feel comfortable posting, and I very sincerely wish things will improve for you, and improve soon.

For BPD, research supports DBT as the best treatment.

Hang in there and try to be gentle to yourself and kind to the universe.

C. M.

C. M.January 10th, 2008 at 11:57 pm


I hadn’t been reading for a while. How are you? How are things going?

C. M.

MikeJanuary 11th, 2008 at 11:32 am

Dear C.M
I don’t have the chance to talk to a theraphist or psychiatrist.That’s why i needed your help.I just need some advises.I know that academe like you don’t have expertise on such an issue.But really it s not something i feel comfy posting here.I would very much expect you to understand my circumstance…

CindyJanuary 13th, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Hello to everyone that is reading this site. It helps me whenever I get down to read the support I receive.

I had 2 strokes since November and I have’nt had any ECT treatments. I am scared to have them. My husband gives me shots of geodon to help bring me out of my dark moods. I was struggleing last week, but not enough to have ECT’s. My doctor put me back on carbatrol to help and if that doesn’t work, then my only help is to go back to having ECT’s. I know they work, but I am scared and think they may be the reason for the strokes even though my doctors don’t think so.

So for now, I am doing ok without the ECT’s (after having them every 3 weeks for 1 1/2 years. Keep in touch and good luck to everyone who is continuing to deal with the depression we all have been through.


JoannaFebruary 8th, 2008 at 11:41 am

Hello everyone… I’ve found this site in an attempt to understand what ECT really is and the pros and cons of the procedure.

My mom had been scheduled for ECT for the last 2 weeks but haven’t completed the treatment yet. I am scared to death for my mother. She is 64 years old and went through a horrible depression 10 years ago. She attempted suicide several times, almost suceeding in her last attempt of setting herself on fire.

She has been non-medicated and her “normal” self for the last ten years. Dec. 16th she started acting like she did when I was a kid (I’m 23 now). The doctors say they have tried all medications and nothing is working and that she is in “Psychotic Depression”. I’m nothing close to a doctor but I can’t imagine that in 45 days that they’ve tried “everything”.

I would appreciate any advice on whether or not to have the ECT performed or not. Personally, I can’t stand the thought of my mom sustaining memory loss or brain damage. They also told her that because she does not have good teeth that her teeth may break off.

Please help!!!! I don’t know what to do!!!

AngelaFebruary 8th, 2008 at 3:52 pm

I have recently received ECT and I am very happy that I got it. I was hospitalized for 2 months and they could not improve my mood with any means.
My doctor came to me and told me about the ECT and gave me a sheet about the facts on it.
I had never heard about it before and I did not see the harm in giving it a try.
I received a series of 12 and I felt better on the 4th. While I was receiving them there was only 3 other people that were also getting them we all felt better and now that they are over I feel as though I got my life back.
I was informed that ECT is not a forever fix and that maintenance is required and I have no problems what so ever going back in to get a series every once in a while. The reason why I wanted to leave a post is because I feel that ECT is one of those procedures that will always cause conflicts everywhere just like abortion, it’s something that you yourself need to make on your own. I never had the opportunity to research it prior since I never left the hospital before getting it. I was informed that it may cause some short term memory loss, but I never had any. I am grateful for it I know truly that if I had not received the ECT I might have given up on my life.

JuliaMarch 18th, 2008 at 12:37 am

I am not a patient of ECT but a college student doing some research on the treatment for a speech. I found this site through google and have been reading and watching the information, which is very helpful. I can’t possibly say I understand what it’s like to go through any of this because I don’t but you are all very brave people and I admire that.

I guess what I’m trying to say is thanks for all the information and opinions! It’s helped a lot. I was skeptical at first of how much information would be out there about this topic and there’s obviously a lot more than I thought.

Peter WilkinsonMarch 22nd, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Is there ant research linking Alzheimer’s and ECT in middle age ??

Please point me to any sources

Thank you

BONNIEMarch 28th, 2008 at 7:01 am

Isn’t that what ECT is all about ? Memory loss? To be able to forget those things in your head that torment you? I have had depression for 21 years. I have taken different meds and therapy.
It seems that nothing works for me. I have severe anxiety and my mind will not let me rest. I want to stop the racing thoughts of guilt and fear that haunt me. My doctor has recommended ECT and I had my first visit with the doctor this week. He said I was a candidate for ECT because of the deep rooted things from my childhood. Very disfuntional family. I rarely leave the house anymore and life has no joy or pleasure for me.
I have suicidal thoughts often and attempted once.
I have 3 weeks to make up my mind and now I am very reluctant. I do not want to be a vegetable either..Very confused now after reading….

PriscillaApril 4th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

I have been depressed since I was a child. If you see pictures of me I don’t smile in any of them. I met all the criteria for a depressed child except a physical response. From age 16 on I have had many major episodes. My last one has really been since 11/86 to now, except for 3/00 to 11/02 when Effexor worked. I have a strong genetic background. A cousin my age is very depressed and two male cousins on the same side of the family committed suicide. My father was depressed and his sister and another cousin. They are all on my father’s side. Plus I have a schizophrenic aunt on my mother’s side. Anyway, since I have been considering ECT, I would like to Know if there has been any research done on the kinds of depression that respond more favorably to ECT than others?

CindyApril 5th, 2008 at 8:00 am

I am sorry that you have had depression for all those years. I to was depressed as a child starting around 4 yrs old. I do ECT treatments every 3 weeks to keep me from racing thoughts and suicidal tendencies. I still get depressed sometimes and thats when I get an extra shot of geodon. ECTs do not make you a vegtable, they do make you forget some things that happen during the first cople of weeks, but it slowly comes back, but is worth losing the racing thoughts.

I am here to support you in any decision you make and want you to know that you can write to me or anyone in this site if you have any questions or need help.


Katy IsheeApril 20th, 2008 at 9:13 pm

You DO NO WANT ECT!; How can brain damage be good for you. I had a series of 10 in 1967 and I still don’t know what I’ve lost and found very little of what I did lose. ECT is NOT the answer. It only surpresses your feelings which will resurface sooner or later and be 10x worse. Problems need to be talked about and worked through,Brain damage is not the answer. THe pain I
received mentally physically (yes it hurt llike hell) and emotionally is horrendous. Don’t do it.! You can get the same effect by getting hit in the head with a steel pipe!

sharonApril 23rd, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Hi. I have also suffered from depression for 15 years or so..Prozac did work for me for about 8 yrs and then stopped. Since then, I have been on many “cocktails”. I’ve pretty much taken every med out there.. I was never diagnosed as bipolar in the past, but my psychopharmachologist diagnosed me 2yrs ago with “bipolar II”. The last time I saw him (2 wks ago), he upped my lamictal dosage significantly and told me if that didn’t start to give me relief, we would have to have a “serious” talk about what the next step would be.. I think the lamictal actually effects my rememberance of words as I speak.. I am often at a loss of words!!!

He has suggested MAOI’s a couple of times and thinks it would be the best med for my type of depression..(rejection sensitivity, mood swings, depression, anxiety, etc..) However, I am concerned about the food restrictions and the side effects..

The other option is ECT..I am really leaning towards it, as I heard it was helpful in many cases. However, when it comes to memory loss, can it be where you don’t even remember who people are? (friends, family, etc…) Would I remember my boyfriend, sister? Or is it the type of memory loss in which you don’t remember incidents and past experiences? That is a major worry..Will it effect my sense of humor and my personality??? Would it have any sexual side effects which is often prominent with other antidepressants? Please help me understand.. at this point I am desperate for real answers, as I lost all hope.


AngelaMay 8th, 2008 at 9:25 pm

ECT in 1967 was a bit diffrent then it is now in 2008, I do agree on Talking about your problems but when you are so depressed that you don’t have a light at the end of your tunnel you really don’t care about talking, all you want is your problems over.

I really didn’t want to do the ECT, but I had no will to my life left, ECT did end up giving it back to me.
Now that I’m stabablized i’m in therapy that i could never of even attempeted befor the ECT
But even though it worked it’s not just shocking your brain, your getting put under, and that’s a major risk, and complications happen all the time
ECT really, really should be a last resort, but never not there for the ones who want it.

StacyMay 9th, 2008 at 4:19 pm

I have spent 10 years trying every type of antidepressant made to no avail. My doctor has been urging me to get ECT for a couple years now. I have voiced my concerns over the memory loss and possible brain injury, but she feels like today’s ECT is much safer than it use to be. In reading the posts it is difficult to tell who has received bilateral ECT and who has received unilateral ECT. I was interested in knowing if those who have received unilateral ECT recently are still experiencing the same memory loss and brain damage. I would really like to enjoy my life again, but I don’t think I would be happy with permanent brain difficulties either. Thanks in advance.

CindyMay 14th, 2008 at 3:11 pm

I have written to this website before and now I need some advice.

I have maintenance treatments every three weeks and I have asked my doctor over and over to stop them but he thinks I still need them and said for at least until I am stable for 6 months. My last episode was in February which leaves me until August. I trust my doctor but want to stop ect. He’ll probably drop me as his patient if I go against what he has said. At this point, I would like to stop them to see if I could live without them. Any advice?

AngelaMay 15th, 2008 at 12:07 am

I feel so bad for you
I know one thing for sure that a doctor can not drop you for stoping ECT
He can however if you refuse ECT and then medication or whatever else he has suggested as an alternative, but not for just the ECT.
I’m not sure where your from, or how you go about getting a psyc doc, but I had kind of the same problem, my doctor has a different approach he wants to take with me and hs told me he will drop me if I don’t take it,
Where I’m at they are in extremly short demand and if you even have one your considered lucky i guess
Some how I found out, from people who I’m in DBT class with that there is a procedure you have to go through
I called my doctor, my GP and told her my problem and she has decided to re-refer me to a new one, luckly the new psych doc agreed to take me on.
but of course there is a 3 month wait with her
What i was suppose to do before my doctor was to, legally?? I’m not sure if thats the right term
but anyways was, i was suppose to fire my doctor, claiming, differences of opinions before ohip would cover a new doctor for me
she did it anyways for me cause she knew that he would then refuse to see me if he found out that i was gonna leave him, so she’s letting me wait till I get in to see the new doctor.
Best of luck to you and remember that a doctor can’t pressure you into ECT and can’t drop you cause you changed your mind about it and no longer wish to receive that form of treatment

C.M.May 15th, 2008 at 12:46 pm

Dear Cindy,

I just read your last posts, and you are in my thoughts.

Treatment of non-psychotic, non-suicidal, non-dangerous people should be voluntary. Considering that you have had strokes, I think it is reasonable for you to wish to try to go off of ECT. I think explaining that you feel coerced and that you think that although ECT has been helpful for you in the past, ECT may have played a role in your strokes, and also agreeing that if you become suicidal you are willing to resume treatments, should be adequate. If not, then it may be a good time to transition to another doctor.

I am very sorry that you are having a rough time.
You are a thoughtful and kind person– it shows in your posts– and I wish I had a magic wand to make things better.


DanielleMay 22nd, 2008 at 2:23 am

I was scanning this while doing some research for a project.

Incidentally, I also have dealt with depression for a number of years (diagnosed at 18, but was probably dealing with depressive bouts for years before that.) While I haven’t needed to consider the question of “whether to ECT or no” (and am surprised to hear it being recommended for people who AREN’T bipolar), what I can tell you from my own experience is that it has required a lot of different things to keep me on an even keel. I am taking medication (Paxil), but I have also worked with a psychiatrist (who still manages my meds) who worked with me on some CBT things (and I actually DID learn some good techniques from the infamous “Feeling Good” book). But I ultimately needed to approach therapy from a more “feeling” place. The cognitive therapy was very helpful, but I was having trouble really accessing the feelings that were just under the surface of all the thinking of how I got to where I was in my life and how I think about things. I am now working with a therapist who specializes in somatic therapy–a safe way to not only get in touch with “the dark stuff”, but to process it and heal. I also watch my diet, exercise, meditate… and check myself if I start going down and reach out to someone if I can’t stop the negative chatter in my head.

One thing that has been of utmost importance to me in my life and in my “process” has been that I have a voice and that whatever I do, good, bad, or indifferent is my choice. While I didn’t “choose” to wind up with depression or have a bunch of dysfunctional childhood stuff to work through, I CAN choose to learn ways to live a full and meaningful life regardless. (There are days that are still unspeakably ugly and all kinds of fucked up stuff to go through, though.)

All I can say is, inform yourself and speak up. Ask questions. Be honest with your therapist/psychiatrist about how the meds are working or how the ECT affected you. If they tune you out, find someone else.

Above all, don’t give up. As much as it hurts and as endless as it seems, hold on. You’re worth the struggle.

Take care.

C.M.May 29th, 2008 at 9:11 pm


You are in my thoughts, and I am cheering for you. Envision a faraway friend waving a silly pompom and cheering, cheering, cheering for you.

How are things going?

Hang in there!!!!


(Everybody else– You hang in there, too!!!)

Rhonda SundownJune 5th, 2008 at 1:29 am

Hey I am one of the patients that has benefitted from ECT’s. The reason why I am here is to learn more about what I have agreed to. At the time I was first introduced to ECT I was to miserable, suicidal and not my self to really understand much about ECT. I have since researched it and have found it is not as horrible as some write about. I truely think it is the ECT doc and the facility that is a important tool to have a successful ECT. I am currently going or maintenance treatments but we have found that it is best for me to do this because my chemicals in my brain need a little help to keep me from constantly thinking of killing myself.

Thanks for the info.

BobJune 8th, 2008 at 10:35 am

To All the Non patients:

First of all, I am not an MD, or Psychologist. Also, I do not work or any drug company or medical device company. Having said that, I hope it puts to rest any concerns of bias in my comments. My comments are based soley on 20 years of observation and experiece with caring for someone with Bi-polar and treatment resistant severe depression. This persn has been on every medication manufactured to date. Sometimes with only marginal temporary effects. She had 4 treatmentsof ECT one year ago and is now hospitalized awaiting another round of ECT. What was more telling to me was that after she had the first round of ect a year ago, she reported no more racing thoughts, but also reported that she “just didn’t feel much”. However, my observation of her bahvior was different than she reported. I observed a greater level of calmness and ability to cope with daily life. Perhapes her initial expectations were not well managed and therefore her expectations were not fully realized. Its also my observation that the patient often does a very poor job of observing their own behavior with or without treatment. Maybe this is part of the disease, I don’t know.

As for side effects, I noticed no memory lapse except for the day of the treatment. Her cognitive ability semed uneffected. She did have a lingering headache after the treatment but that was handled by some kind of shot they give you.

For us, this seems like a near last resort option since pharmacology has had litte to ne effect.

The fact that she’s voluntarily back in the hospital requesting ect again is actually a positive step. Heretofore, she would have fallen into “the black pit” as she calls it and something else negatively drastic would have happened.

Hope this helps the non patient.

ChrisJune 20th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

I’m a 50year old mail that relapsed back into severe depression 2 years ago and have been suffering since then. I used to be a Professor of Environmental Science but have had to give up my career. In 1992, I had fallen into a depression and had a course of 12 ECT treatments. At the time, I didn’t think they helped at all, but now believe that they negatively impacted my brain a great deal. I have significant memory loss as well as difficulty focusing and concentrating. ECTs should not be taken lightly and only after all other options have been exhausted. My heart goes out to all the folks on this site who are dealing with depression. Most of the world cannot understand your struggle, but I do, as well as the folks on this site do. Hang in there…..

WintermistJuly 4th, 2008 at 1:47 pm


I found this site after searching for more information regarding ECT. I live in Sweden and after a year of trying different medications and other non-working solutions for my depression they’re resorting to ECT.

I’ve had depression for as long as I can remember and it wasn’t until recently I actually got to get help for it.

I had my first treatment today and I thought I would report how I feel after each time I have one, it might be interesting to read.

So, they put me to sleep and administered the treatment. When I awoke I was naturally a bit disoriented for a while, as well as tired although this may have been enhanced by the fact that I hadn’t slept well for the last couple of days.

I was left in an area where I could sleep and “get back to normal” and later that day left for home.

I’ve suffered no memory loss yet.

My muscles in the neck area are a bit sore.

I’ve had a headache all day, 9:45 pm.

I’ll post after my next ECT treatment again.

WintermistJuly 4th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

“I’ve had a headache all day, 9:45 pm.”

Was really meant to be:

I’ve had a headache all day, started treatment at 9 am and it’s now 9:45 pm.

I was doing some copying and pasting and I messed it up ;)

WaltJuly 15th, 2008 at 7:09 pm

My mom at age 58 was suffering depression after a consecutive chain of negative life events along with developed coping problems, which eventually lead to her attempt at suicide. She tried the carbon monoxide trick but fell short of dying leaving her in a messed up state. She had a heart attack and a seizure. That left her walking slow (when she does walk) and falls down alot. since she was readmitted to hospital due to broken arm from a fall, she went downhill fast. gone in a trance mumbling incoherently, eventually to total silence. Dr. calls it catatonic depression, and feels ECT may help with the silent veg state. They say she is having problems with memory. like she forgets she has to pee and releases it into a diaper. She also spoke of a grid of squares in her head with little movies in each square, when she focused on one square she sees they are memories from her life. (Maybe simalar to seeing the programming behind windows XP or ?)

If the poisoning has effected her memory, wont the ECT treatments make mem issues worse?? Where can we draw the line between brain damage from monoxide poisoning and the catatonic depession mode. Could there be issues that may conflict with ECT from the primary illness? or false positives between the two issues? Im not ready for a special needs mom, and need enlightenment on the direction she’ll be heading.

Thank you

SHANNONSeptember 3rd, 2008 at 7:20 pm

I just had ECT and I am in the phase of the after effects. They are not fun. I have short term and long term memory loss. When I first got home, I didn’t recognize things (things I should of known). My family took my keys from me, because I could not drive (I was very confused). That lasted for about 4 days after I left the hospital. I was angry that no one told me that I could not drive, would have memory problems and some of my memory gone, permanently, and that I would not be able to work for a long time. If I would of been told about the specifics, I would of waited until I could afford to do the Ect treatments. I am at home at the age of 33 with a family having my mother watch me so I am not in danger. I am upset with the change and not being able to remember things like I used to, and I see things differently, its hard to explain, but everything looks different.

MichelleOctober 28th, 2008 at 4:25 pm

I have a sister who is in deep depression and has been diagnosed with bi-polar. She is non-responsive to any meds (she has tried them all I think) and has not had relief for two years. I am going to her Doctor with her tomorrow (2nd visit) to determine her start date. To those of you who have had the treatment I have some questions:
1) What type of care does she need? She will be receiving two treatments a week.
2) What kind of activity will she have? Will she mostly be sleeping?
3) What is the best way to support her?
4) Who took care of you during your treatment and what would have been the most helpful to you?

She will be receiving her treatments as an out-patient.

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. My toughts and prayers go out to each of you as you continue your journey.

I have found it helpful to read the experiences of those that have received treatment.

I feel hopeful that my sister will receive some relief. I believe she is willing to have some memory loss so she can continue on with her life with some peace, joy & passion.

With appreciation,

CynthiaNovember 3rd, 2008 at 2:12 pm

I was given 9 ECTs forcibly, completely against my will. This, along with the 20 years of irresponsibly and recklessly prescribed psychiatric drugs, prescribed for non-psychiatric reasons and information about which was completely withheld and which I was lied to about, and which eventually resulted in a breakdown, have caused me extreme memory loss, cognitive impairment, and numerous physical disabilities and severe illness. Anyone who is
contemplating this as a voluntary procedure, or anyone whose family member or friend is being faced with being forcibly ECTed against their will, don’t do it, or fight against your family member having it forced on them. As a victim of this I can assure you that it is absolutely true about the damage that follows and it has not improved with time, in fact it has worsened. It is worse than a sexual rape, which is horrific enough. It is a rape of one’s entire body, mind, and spirit, and it does result in a personality change for the worse, as well. It has robbed me of everything that is important in my life, which is no longer anything but a hellish existence and has made me very depressed, which I wasn’t before this.

RhondaNovember 7th, 2008 at 1:08 pm


Thanks for providing a space for questions.

I have had two courses of ECT over the past five years. They increased my anxiety terribly.

I am now more stable than I have been in the past five years, tolerating in the bed depression.

I feel so much better (from a med overhaul) but,
I can barely my feelings. It feels like my pleasure centers are shut down.

My therapist suggests that maybe this is the new “normal” for me…

Is it likely that the ECT has caused this…as suggested by my therapist and I have been hoping this is not the case.

Thank you for your attention,


CynthiaNovember 15th, 2008 at 7:47 am

To Rhonda,
I know exactly what you mean when you say it feels like your pleasure centres are shut down.
I have been like that since I was forcibly ECTed,
and I know it is the ECTs that did it to me, because I wasn’t that way before. I recently came across a comment, from I think it was a psychiatrist or possibly some kind of scientist,
who said he would rather have a small lobotomy than ECT because of the brain damage that is caused by ECT. I’m completely emotionally dead now in any positive way. All I feel is anger and depression and tremendous sadness and hopelessness and it’s got worse. not better. I am not me any more. Psychiatric drugs are going to be messing with your brain too; their nature is to cause brain damage. You’ve got to get off that stuff, if you’re not already, but gradually, unless you’re experiencing extrapyramidal symptoms, in which case you’ve got to stop it, but get some help from people who know what they’re doing (good luck, there are not many).
I would continue to urge anyone who is being lied to by commission or omission about what great benefits they will get from ECT, if it is voluntary, to run, not walk, as far away as you can get, and to urge anyone whose friend or family member is facing forcible ECT for whatever reason given to do their utmost to fight against it and protect
the person you care about because even if the situation is such that you are dramatically told they will die without it, they would be better off fully dead
than being emotional zombies who have to continuously struggle 24/7 with the enormous amount of cognitive impairment and memory loss, etc. that ECT causes from the brain damage it inflicts. The person you once were or the person you care about will probably be dead and gone forever, and if you do not do your utmost to protect your loved one from this to the greatest possible extent, I can promie you that your relationship with them will be beyond repair and will never be the same again. It will be too late. Don’t put yourself in the position of saying, ‘If only…’
Prevent this before it happens. There is no cure for it once the damage has been done. It’s my personal experience, having been forcibly ECTed with no attempt from my husband to stop it, which has ended our 25 year+ relationship, but it is not just my experience. I have been researching ECT and so far I have found nothing good said about it. Responsible psychiatrists have said they would not subject people to this permanent brain damage, and if you start researching it for yourself you can find out the truth about this damaging procedure, as well as the extensive damage caused by psychiatric prescription drugs, which are nothing but poison. Dr Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who opposes these prescriptions and ECTs, is just one of many who are exposing these things for what they really are.

Chantelle ShawDecember 19th, 2008 at 11:43 am

My sister has suffered from depression for 10 years now. She has been in various clinics for depression and on 13 different types of anti depressants. Nothing has helped for her. She started going for ECT last week. She had her 5th treatment today. After her first 2 treatments she was ontop of the world. Then after the 3rd, 4th and 5th treatment she got more and more depressed. She has 1 treatment left to go (this Monday 22 Dec. 2008), im worried that the ECT could be making her more depressed than what she was in the past. She has had severe memory loss, her memory comes back the next day, and also headaches after the ECT. I spoke to her tonight on the phone, and she says that she is shacking and feeling worse than what shes ever felt before. Should she go for the treatment on Monday????? Has anyone out there ever felt more depressed after having ECT? Do you feel better after a while? If theres anyone out there who can help, i would be highly grateful. My sister is now saying that she doesnt want to live anymore as this was the last resort for her depression.

JakeDecember 29th, 2008 at 4:27 am

I’m split over ECT, like I’m scientific and recognize studies have shown no damage, all that stuff, but for me at least, I have nothing except my weak memory. For the people that say depression is episodic, wait until you have bad genes and just get it 24/7/365 for YEARS (as in there’s no reprieve, no resolution of symptoms).

I’ve been looking into Ketamine (a dissociative anesthetic found useful for depression) and apperantly, it’s like a chemical ECT (it affects the same receptors) but no seizures, no paralytics necessary, no memory damage ever associated with it. The only thing is doctors claim it causes PTSD, depression, suicide, trauma, although it’s been shown quite clearly in at least 99% of people it CAN’T do this. (at least from direct or chemically indirect effects from the drug)

My only trouble is this:

What’s the probability if I threaten self harm, if I don’t recieve something like Ketamine (in New York state) that they’ll forcibly treat me with ECT? (I don’t doubt ECT’s effectiveness, but unlike most medicines, it’s irreversible. You can’t undo shocks/seizures, ever.)

To be clear, I’m intelligent, well spoken, no history of mania/delusions/illusions.

JakeDecember 29th, 2008 at 4:48 am

Guh, making a second post.

For people that think meds are harmful: ANY substance is harmful when used improperly. As for the statement “they work by causing brain damage.” NO, no they don’t, ever. One obvious reason, brain damage is irreversible. That means if it caused brain damage which relieved symptoms, the medicine would be unnecessary after that.

Second, I suggest ANYONE with bipolar or a delusional disorder, try “Seroquel”, it’s brand name one (generic in Canada), but unique. It’s one of the only ones that acts on the same system ECT works on (glutamate/GABA receptors) and yet it has only shown like 4 cases of Tardive Dyskinesia in it’s history (despite it being very easily over-prescribable and VERY popular).

For people that claim “pleasure is shut down.” No, in fact, if you had brain damage (as measured by damage to tissue in the Hippocampus, the part of the brain that remembers) your dopamine levels would soar through the roof and you’d have no problem feeling pleasure. For further information, read lesioning studies on the hippocampus. And more obvious, the “pleasure center” is in the other side of 95% of the populations brain. And again, if your brain was “backwards” your verbal skills AND the pleasure center would be affected by the ECT, not your memory for pictures/sounds/motor experiences etc, or your ability to learn pictures/sounds/motion experiences.

However, there is possibility that with the visual system being affected(the largest/most complex sensory lobe) it would be more difficult to learn by watching/reading. The only catch is NO STUDY HAS EVER SHOWN THIS TO HAPPEN, measured both in activity before learning, during learning, after learning, or any physical change in the brain tissue.

For you more dogmatic people: someone can defend something and not be a proponent. Contrarily, someone can defend something but still be against it. The most important thing is you know the FACTS, supported by real data, not just “truths” or stories.

WintermistJanuary 1st, 2009 at 3:52 am

I had no help from ECT and no medicine either. I’ve been like this since I was a child. I never wanted to live. Now, older and wiser it seems to me I am just so disappointed with how humanity works and the outlook of the world we live in. I just don’t want to continue in it. I’m done.

It’s only the past 6 years I’ve actually been in contact with doctors and all sorts of various treatments but nothing has even touch my state of mind.

I see it not as a depression, but more like an expression or perhaps reaction of what I’ve seen of the world. I’d be happy if I could live alone in a cabin somewhere without the influence of society.

It’s hard to describe this state of mind in just a few words but I thought I’d tell them anyway. I consider myself an Intellectual with a high IQ as well as very social and attractive. In reality the world is at my feet. I’ve no reason to feel bad due to anything the world can throw at me. I can handle it.

I’m just so utterly disappointed with how humans in large masses can’t cooperate and live for living, and not for luxury, greed and territory. We all live on this very same globe. Crops do not grow because someone pay for them, they grow because someone plants it.

Oil does not come up because someone buys it. It comes up because someone pumps it up. But with all these resources available to us, we just can’t use them cooperatively. We’re like 50 warrior ant colonies all living in the same ant hill not able to work together for a common goal.

The day we get an economic crisis, then perhaps, we can work for living instead of living for work.

CyrillaJanuary 2nd, 2009 at 12:46 pm

I have had 36 treatments from Aug 07-Aug 08. My life will never be the same. I have lost years of my life. I can’t remember my children being born, when they grew up, ore any of the important milestones. My husband is so kind, he keeps trying tofill in gaps, but he doesn’t realize that as we talk, I am becoming even more depressed. If I had had the knowledge that this would have happened, I would not have done it. I was told my short term memory would be affected but would return in 3-6 months. It has been 4 months and it isn’t any better. Is there any hope or is this what I am stuck with? I need truth, not hum hall. Please tell me statistically what cases like mine have done. Please help. The uncertainty is awful. I have lost Cyrilla, I am merely a shell, Idon’t know what I am here for. Help. Cyrilla

Pam C.January 31st, 2009 at 1:06 am

I have what is called TRD – Treatment Resistant Depression. After unsuccessfully trying to commit suicide I ended up in Behavioral Health Hospital for 2 wks. I have been on every SSRI, SSNRI, tricyclics, benzos, etc. I had – according to my sister 11 or 12 ECTs with 3 of them being bi-lateral. I have to take her word for it because I can’t remember. I am on LTD from work (RN) because of memory issues. I cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner and had people over and ate and talked, apparently, because I have no recollection of it at all. I talk and then have to stop while I search what is left of my memory for the word I’m trying to say. I constantly have to write notes or ask friends, family, whoever what I did or need to do. After all of this I am on no meds at this time, and really haven’t progressed very far in my depression. I will not have any more ECT, I have lost enough memory. I guess this is what my life will be from now on.

JanetJune 1st, 2009 at 4:36 am

Thanks for having a great website that provides some answers that you can’t get from the doctors. I am scheduled to get my first ECT next week. Aside from being really scared, I really want to know how I will feel after the treatment. Will I be able to do anything after the treatment, or will I be in bed sleeping the day away. I know all about the memory loss and headaches, but nobody talks about day to day living.

I have bi-polar and have been on tons of medications that have not worked for 15 years. As a last resort, I am going to give ECT a try, lets hope that it works.

Thanks again for all your great information.

C.M.June 1st, 2009 at 5:51 am

Dear Janet,

Good luck– I hope it will be very successful. Based on what people who have had it have told me, I would expect to need to recuperate for most of the day.


P.S. to Cindy– how are you doing?

C.M.June 1st, 2009 at 5:54 am

Dear Janet–

Also, one suggestion– before you start treatment, be sure to write down, in a safe/secure place you will be able to find later, all of your important #s and passwords. You might forget them. Maybe give the list to a trusted loved one to hold onto for you.


CyrillaJune 1st, 2009 at 8:58 am

Dear Janet,
Many times when I had ECT I would have a terrible headache, other times I didn’t. At times I would be confused only I didn’t really realize it so that is why you need tohave someone with you. It is a good idea about the important #’s and passwords, I wish I had done that. Please be aware of the memory loss. After 36 treatments, I have lost years of my life and my short term memory is very difficult. I am currently in cognitive rehab for my short-term memory problems. I have been told I will probably never retrieve my long term memory loss. Get a good day planner like the Franklin Day planner and use it for everything rather than having notes everywhere like I used to. You will have problems with your memory. If you journal, you will see the progression of your short-term memory loss so it is better to be prepared. The short term does come back with time and work. Good luck and I hope it helps you. I will be glad to answer any questions.

Pam C.June 2nd, 2009 at 1:17 pm

I feel I should share my experience with ECT, it might help someone trying to decide. Last July I was suicidal, I have suffered with depression and anxiety for over 20 yrs. I was put on many antidepressants which either didn’t work or I had bad reactions to the medication. I was hospitalized twice. My psychiatrist kept insisting on ECT. I had researched it and did not want any part of it. Finally I gave up and agreed to the ECT, I thought it can’t be worse than what I am experiencing now. How wrong I was. I had 9 treatments. Before the treatments I was an RN, had a great job. Now because of the memory loss and cognitive impairment I am on disability and unable to work. I have trouble with my finances because of memory, I am constantly being reminded of things I have no recollection of. I cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner and had company and can’t remember one thing about it. My psychiatrist just keeps saying it will get better, give it about 6 months. It has been 6 months and I am not better. I have to write notes all over the house to remind me of things. If it isn’t in front of me I can’t remember it. Please anyone considering ECT, get as much info as you can and try everything else first. If I had it to do over, I never would.

CyrillaJune 2nd, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Dear Pam,
I agree with you. I had a car wreck in ’04 and became very depressed and suicidal. At the time I was an RN-a Clinical Supervisor. Due to a back injury and then the depression I could not return to work. Things kept getting worse and worse. I was hospitalized I can’t remember, I think twice before the ECT started. I had a total of 36 treatments I think between 07 and 08. I too have severe memory loss and cognitive impairment. I am undergoing therapy at present. Your description sounds just like me. At six months, I began the process of being evaluated by a neuropsychologist and then referred to speech therapy for cognitive retraining. I saw a neurologist to see if there was obvious “damage” from the ECT. Think about getting one planning system to use so you don’t have the notes everywhere, it has really made a difference for me. My therapist got me the Franklin Day planner and it has spaces for everything! I would never do ECT again, either.

Pam C.June 3rd, 2009 at 1:18 am

Thanks Cyrilla for responding. I was reading through some of the postings and apparently I left a similar message in Jan. I did not think I had left anything on this site. Another example of my memory being shot. Thanks for the advice on the day planner, I will definitely get one, I lose notes all the time. My best to you.

josh v.September 6th, 2009 at 6:33 pm

ect is torture! don’t do it.

Pam C.September 9th, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Has anyone had lawful recourse to ect? My life is ruined because of it.

ChristinaSeptember 15th, 2009 at 8:40 am

I received ECT treatments after being diagnosed with Post Partum Phycosis in September 2008. I received 13 treatments in total from September 2008 to December 2008. It has ruined my memory of that time (when my baby was first born) and seems to have effected some older memories. Other than that, there doesn’t seem to be any long term side effects.

ECT made me very tired and disoriented. I was hospitalized during my treatments. It was a very horrific time in my life.

JoanOctober 11th, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Would like to know if ECT treatments make you go back into the past. My 82 year old mother has had two treatments and scheduled for more. The two treatments have her going back to her past as a child from around 1937 and up through the current 2009. She had ECT’s in the mid 60′s which did help her but she did have quite a bit of memory loss of incidents that happened before the treatments. My dad who passed away in the 80′s is not here to help us get answers to what went on when she had the ECT’s in the mid 60′s.
Any way back then children were not told much of anything about another’s medical issues.

Please let me know if anyone ever experienced regressing back to the past during ECT.

Thanks so much

cleopatraOctober 15th, 2009 at 11:23 pm

I have a train reck of a life and started attempting suicide at age 8, i have gone through soooo many recomended medicinal treatments and also done some self diagnosing and treating but nothing has worked, seems i have various disorders according to the therapists and psychiatrists ive seen the last few years ..Depression, Bipolar , ADD, generalized Anxiety, borderline personality disorder, substance-use disorder the list goes on, at somepoint i have stoped taking everything and im 6 personalities in one. I have talked online and have had various ECT recomendation the one thing i dont know is what effect it will have on me since i have been HIV +ve past 3 years, the memory loss would actuall make me go for it to forget all the horrible events ive had since 8 yrs old. Does anyone have any advice?

sexizlex.tkOctober 17th, 2009 at 1:14 am

This site has helped me. thanks.

sexizlex.tkOctober 17th, 2009 at 1:15 am

hello !
Oh yeah…in regards to one looking up information rather than just accepting that it works…there is no logical rationale for your statement. People who care about themselves look up information about treatment options all the time…why do you think WebMD exists?

CyrillaOctober 17th, 2009 at 9:33 am

It has been a year and 4 months since the last of my 36 treatments over a year period. I have been through cognitive rehab which has helped with my short-term memory problems and daily living. I use a daily planner for everything which really helps. I have still lost YEARS of my life which it is beginning to look like I am not going to regain. I still have hope. I can’t remember the birth of my children or the years that they grew up. We are talking 20 some years. I have forgotten going to nursing school which is another terrible thing. I suffer from major depression from all that I have been through and things in the past as well. I am trying to get through everything. Still, if I could do it over, I would hope my husband would not agree to ECT again, nor would I. I think anything that can wipe the very soul of a person away should be eliminated. Is the attempt of a cure worth it if you have destroyed the person?

JudyNovember 10th, 2009 at 4:19 pm

There is absolutely no reason to fear ECT!

After receiving over 70 ECT treatments throughout the years, I have had very positive experiences. ECT has never failed to stop the depression I’ve had. For my ECTs, I go to a large, well-respected hospital with a doctor holding excellent credentials, and well-trained hospital ECT teams. My treatments are always painless, as I am put to sleep before the procedures are given. When I awake, I’m still sleepy and things are a little hazy, so I nap for a few hours when I get home — and also, I never wake with a headache. I’m wondering if the headaches some people have said they experience may be the result of the type of anesthesia used ?

Regarding memory, be forewarned –it is true for some people. You have to take some loss for what it is and keep a sense of humor about it. You have to weigh your pros and cons when you decide to get treatment in the first place. I have lost a little memory, but my family and friends all understand, and help me out.

If you have a negative experience with your ECT, it’s time to move on and make a change, maybe to another doctor, hospital, or treatment team.

Good luck and God bless.

Nadia BehrFebruary 14th, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Doctor’s of Deception by Linda Andre just came out. I suggest anyone who is considering the treatment or who is now suffering the long term effects of ECT get a copy of her book.

She is the first person who brings this subject to light. I admire her for taking the time and effort to uncover the Medical records, FDA archives, and court records that document the harmful effects of this treatment.

The advocates who profit from promoting ECT had the limelight and did a great job marketing this treatment for a number of years; thanks to the book by Linda Andre the facts regarding ECT are brought to light. Her book will address most of your questions.


IsabelFebruary 25th, 2010 at 11:46 am

I have had 10 ECT treatments so far. The results have been less than optimal. I have had a couple of decent days but also two of the worst days I have ever had. I am concerned that the ECT has caused these bad days and whether I should stop the treatment. How long will it be before I know this treatment is working for me? How will I know it is working.

Nadia BehrFebruary 25th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Today we are fortunate to have publications documenting the long term effects of ECT treatments and the new consent forms actually provide patients with warning regarding the potential the long term brain damage.

ECT is a lucrative business for many physicians so it is not in one’s best interest to merely rely on psychiatrists promoting the procedure. Many of them are are not even aware of the neurological findings.
Linda Andre author of “Doctor’s of Deception” exposes all the factual information patients should refer to rather than a professionals opinion.
Linda Andre provides factual information based on FDA archives documenting the ECT used today is not supported by science or evidence.”

Nadia BehrFebruary 25th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Rather than rely on opinions about the procedure here is a site that provides factual information.

KarlaFebruary 28th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Hello, I am a person who underwent about a year’s worth of ECTs back in 2006. My psychiatrist was an excellent one who was the only physician licensed to administer ECT in the area. They were done in the nice, large, modern hospital where I was staying on the psych ward and all the staff were very nice to me, including the anesthesiologist.
It came to the point of needing the ECTs because I had been on every possible type of meds for my depression and other mental illnesses with no help – I was very suicidal.
I think I had ECT for about 3 or 4 months at about 3 times each week with no results. I did have some short-term memory loss and pains that went away, but I was at the point where I didn’t care and just wanted to die. So my husband agreed with my psychiatrist to increase the charges and length of time of the ECTs to see if that would help. He told me she warned me of the danger of permanent memory loss and certain other things like focusing, but I don’t remember. I don’t even have a signed consent form.
Anyhow, after several months of these more intense and longer ECTs I did feel less depressed and not suicidal at all. Of course, I had no recollection of the previous 10 years of my life, including my children’s names and birthdates. My short-term memory is at a loss, too, and being able to focus for periods at a time is very difficult.
I just wish that there were more boundaries to what is accepted with ECT. When the normal limits do not work then stop. Have the patient sign some sort of medical waiver over to someone else who can help make decisions in the event the patient loses their memory. There has to be something more done about informed consent meaning something!
So, today, 4 years later, I cannot work, I’m afraid of people, I don’t recognize or remember things even if I said it 5 minutes ago, and I carry a pad of paper and pen to write things down to help remind me. I’m seeing a local psychiatrist who has me on meds, but I have some really bad days. I once mentioned to my husband a couple years ago that the suicidal thoughts were coming back and he yelled at me for not trying harder, so I keep everything inside so I won’t hurt and scare him.
Does ECT work? I’m sure it does for some. Should it be altered when it doesn’t? I’m living proof that it should not. Stronger regulations are required.
Thank you.

CindyFebruary 28th, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Karla and other ECT users I just wanted to let you know that after havng around 150 ECTS I was just hospitalized for depression and suicidal ideation. I had stopped tretment in June of 09 because I felt that the treatments not only had memory loss but that they were giving TIA’s or miny strokes.In this stay in the office the doctor treating me wanted me evaluated by the doctor who does the treatmeants and I was no longer due to health reasons. So know when I get really depressed or manic I have to work out on my own with medication.

Ask your doctor for a copy of the treatment, ask what kind of anestesia and other drugs (coctail) that they use. Keep a log or diary of the week before the treatment to see what you remember and what you forgot. Then weigh out all your options and if it is working on you moods.

Good Luck

charlie brontawayMay 6th, 2010 at 7:27 pm

it is hard to say what one thinks about ect..having had six treatments almost ten years ago i have not needed anymore.I also have not been on drugs for 7 years. I think saying that ect…is (definatively) not a cure for deprression is somewhat irresponsable…if we look at depression as a cognative problem ect may force a patient to address those for himself…also i found my way to this site because i want to know more about what happened to me saying people who are here are either disapointed or devastated not relevant. some things I know cognitive activity requires more effort and i need more sleep to sustain it. It took along time to no myself agaiin, what i mean by that isto know what i need. I also require allot of sleep and paying attention to my mind then i used…the phychiatric community especially in centers does not undertand that what its payient needs is uderstanding, love and sleep … but sometimes forgetting is important which lets face is probably art of the reason ect is effective…i find also that i am impressionable… cant give up…keep your mind on the prize so to speak…forgetting that you had ect also important ;)

charlie brontawayMay 6th, 2010 at 7:49 pm

talking about deppression,especilly phsychologists talking bout it is counter productive. :)

charlie brontawayMay 6th, 2010 at 7:50 pm

always, always remember its your brain. no body knows it. nobody has control of it but you.

LauraMay 17th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

I had ECT done for one year and I am SO glad that I did it. It has saved my life. I wouldn’t change it for the world. My only issue is that it has really effected my long-term memory. Everywhere that I read, it says things about short-term memory issues and it says that it will come back. I have been off the ECT treatments for almost a year and I still struggle a little bit with some short-term memory. Again, I am not saying that I would’t do the ECT again but has anyone else suffered from long-term memory loss?

CyrillaMay 17th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

I had, I think, 36 treatments from 07-08. My long-term memory and short-term memory are affected. I have lost many years of long-term memory. My husband tells me stories over and over trying to recreate memories. However, my short-term memory then won’t cooperate. My depression remained severe at the time. Now, I am a bit better but I think it is due to meds and therapy rather than ect. I must keep my day timer with me a t all times to keep up with appts. and to write impt. things down. Memory loss is so frustrating, it aedds to the depression. I would never do ect again, I would rather have stayed in the state I was in than to become a shell of a person. Good luck Laura and everyone else that has memory loss as a result of ect.

Pam C.June 13th, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I just read the comments about memory loss. I am about 2 yrs out from ECT, on disability, can’t remember a lot in the short term, some in what I call the mid term. I left my Psychiatrist because he said ECT wouldn’t do that. Well it did, I was an RN, I was severely depressed, but not being able to be productive is much worse.

CyrillaJune 13th, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Pam, I just read your comments. As a former working RN, I appreciate your feelings of lack of productivity. To have lost my skills as a nurse has been one of the greatest tragedies I am having to work through. Others include the massive memory loss and the ongoing depression. I think doctors should be honest with patients and especially family members about the potential side effects prior to ect. The doctor told my husband the memory loss was so severe because they “turned up the current” and gave me multiple treatments at the same time. Can you believe that? I too, am 2 years out from ect, and still a shell of a person, just learning how to cope somewhat with this disability. No fun, all frustration and an added factor for the depression. Good luck to you. If you would like to further talk send a message with your e-mail.

TheresaJune 21st, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I have had numerous ECT treatments and it has helped me greatly with my depression. The down side is that I feel as if my personality has changed significantly. My partner has said this as well. I often have no affect, no feelings either high or low. I feel like a different person, like something is missing. I suppose it has been worth it, for I am no longer on the brink of suicide.

AnnJuly 3rd, 2010 at 1:59 pm

My sister has been trying different medication for her depression for over 10 years and she says it doesn’t seem to be helping. She wants to do ECT and I am scared for her, any advice?

CCGJuly 3rd, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Dear Ann, Is your sister in therapy also? I do think that for me, it is very important to add therapy to the meds. I cannot advocate for ECT due to the long term and short term memory loss I have suffered. My husband said he was told there could be minimal short term memory loss which would resolve in 3-6months, well it has been two years now and I am still ruined, just a shell of the person I was. I still feel the meds don’t really seem to be working, I have to have my meds changed from time to time, but would never, ever consider ECT again. It may have helped a little bit at first when I was it the very darkest pits of depression and so very suicidal but have given my life in a different manner. Good luck to you and your sister.

Pam C.July 9th, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Hi, I feel compelled to answer this. I am an RN on disability because I had ect. My short term memory is gone, I have cognitive deficits, I can’t even do simple math in my head any longer. Worse, I continued to struggle with depression. It has been almost 2 yrs. I recently changed psychiatrists and had zyprexa added to my Prozac. I went to IOP – intensive outpatient therapy and am seeing a pychologists. My mood is improving, the therapy really works, along with the new meds. But my memory is lost and my ability to be an RN, which I loved, is gone. I understand your concern. If I had it to do over I would not do it. I would have gotten a new psychiatrist.

Eva Bennet EasterlingAugust 21st, 2010 at 12:46 pm

This is the first time since I had ETC in Jan. of ‘06 that it has crossed my mind to look up a discussion about this. I am 39 year old female. I should have done it years ago, maybe it would have helped. I don’t know about others, but I spent most of ‘06-’08 in mental hospitals afterward. Lost A LOT of memory long and short term. I don’t handle stress well at all anymore. I have been getting social security disability ever since. I ran casinos up until the ETC. Licensed in 3 states and 2 Indian tribes (my little boast, because that’s all I have left) Now I can barely handle the stress of part-time sales assoc. position. I didn’t even try to work again until ‘08. Thank you for all the information, although I find it overwhelming. Maybe I will find a support group. It would be nice to talk to someone else that had there life taken away. I have tried really hard and come so far in the last 4.5 years, but I will never be who I was. I apologize if this is not the place to put this. Thank you for reading.

CCGAugust 21st, 2010 at 5:04 pm

This is the place for you to discuss your concerns and details you wish to share. It is something, so many of the stories are so similar; we have had ect and now have long term and short term memory deficits. I have lost so many years of my life together with my family, my career and my church family. This makes me both sad and angry. And now, my therapist has talked to my psychiatrist and he says that ect did not do this to me!!! He won’t even admit the adverse effects of ect! He says, he has never seen ect cause this type of memory loss!! To me it sounds like he just wants to cover himself. I don’t want to do anything to him, I just want answers, to know what to expect, like will I ever improve, gain any of my memory back or will I struggle forever. I am unable to work, unable to even read a paper and retain the content. My depression is still a struggle, seeing a therapist weekly and taking meds daily. I don’t know what my future holds. My husband is wonderful, standing by side, telling me stories trying to recreate stories for me but I have lost a lifetime of memories, that isn’t fair to him or the children. Well enough, won’t bore you any more.

marySeptember 2nd, 2010 at 10:23 am

I had 4 ETC treatments after being hospitalized due to a paranoid psychosis. Before the treatments, I would not eat or drink anything in the hospital. I refused to let my fiancee visit me. I was so scared of everything and everyone, and I believed that my entire family was in grave danger. They tried about 6 different medications over the course of a week and they only made me worse. I got talked into ETC by my mother, who was desperate to see me recover. I don’t remember consenting to any of the treatments, but I did.
My feelings on ETC are mixed. It is definitely a last resort. If you think you can function without your short term memory for 6 weeks per treatment, and you really have no other options, then maybe you should consider it. I found it extremely upsetting and frustrating not being able to remember things, and I can’t imagine how embarrassing and upsetting it would be if I had been employed and tried to go back to work before my memory came back. I am thankful that ETC brought me out of the hole I was in and back to real life, but I hate the fact that I cannot remember anything from my stay in the hospital, apart from a few strange memories that have slowly floated back into my brain. I would not do ETC again unless it was my only option to be well. All other avenues should be exhausted first.

marySeptember 2nd, 2010 at 10:24 am

Also, I have been having terrible headaches and neck pain since the treatments. I do not think this is a coincidence. Anyone else experience the same?

marySeptember 2nd, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Also, please be aware that while you may forget traumatic events from your past due to ECT, they will still remain somewhere in your psyche. You cannot erase them for good. A good therapist is a better option in my opinion.

JLCSeptember 27th, 2010 at 7:55 am

I have found this to be very interesting reading. I have suffered with some or other form of depression for as long as I can rememeber. It only became rather debelatating about 2 years ago – after a series of terrible events in my life – leading me to have a nervous breakdown.
I was admitted to a mental health facility, where I received O.T, sessions with a psychologist and psychiatrist. The thing that puzzled me gratly was having the psychiatrist tell me on day 3 of being there, that if my mood did not lift withing another 2 days that I would require to undergo ECT. I know from past experience on anit depressants that they can take up tp 3 months to truly show some form of mood upliftment.
I have been on an SSRI , mood stabiliser and a “crutch” anitdepressant for 2 years now.
A number of ise effects have been apparant for a reasonable period of time now and once again the psychaitrist has told me that I need to undergo ECT.

To me it seems as though some psychiatrists are rather quick on the gun to want to give you a zap -no matter how mild it may be. Instead of investigating the possibility that the actual drugs that we are on are possibly alos causing unpleasant reactions.
I was given a whole lot of literature to read, rather begrudgingly, when I said that I did not believe it was necessary. And I have to say it was not terribly convinvincing reading – there were more con’s in it than pro’s. From 3 people I have met who have undergone ECT, it would be the absolute last resort on earth that I would EVER consider. Not one of these individuals have had good outcomes.

CCGDecember 8th, 2010 at 11:14 pm

It has been 2 1/2 years since 36 treatments of ECT. My long term memory is still shot and short term memory is slightly improved. I still have problems reading and retaining information, focusing, retaining any new info, and completing tasks. I am unable to work as an RN because I have lost my skills. I feel worthless and as if I am a mere shell of a person. I truly believe that ECT has ruined my life. ECT was suggested to my husband because I was severely depressed and suicidal. Currently, I am a bit better, but I don’t believe it is due to the ECT, I think it is due to the many attempts at meds and therapy. I completed cognitive therapy which helped me. I was tested by a neuropsychologist and did very poorly after ECT. With side effects such as this, can ECT be a good idea? If I do not gain my memory, I do not know if I will be able to live like this forever. Has anyones memory improved dramatically after ECT? If so, to what degree? Please help me to understand if there is improvement to look forward to or if I need to learn to adjust to the long term memory deficits and short term memory problems.

HeidiDecember 11th, 2010 at 4:29 am

I keep seeing this phrase, “I am drug resistant.” It’s stated as if it were indicative of something wrong, of something abnormal. But that makes no sense. Drugs are the abnormal thing, not the body resisting them.

The one thing that doesn’t seem to be discussed here is that ECT causes brain damage. That’s why there’s memory loss. Seizures are not good for you. The results are not predictable.

Modern ECT is no different from the way it was once done – except that patients are now drugged so that the body doesn’t display the effects of convulsions. There are two benefits in that: Bones (including the spine) don’t break and the witnesses to the treatment don’t have to be disconcerted by seeing the physical signs of brain damage happening.

A seizure is not considered anything but harmful by anyone but psychiatrists who are doing (and getting paid for) these treatments and the manufacturers of these products, who make enormous profits from them.

CCGDecember 11th, 2010 at 9:22 am

I appreciate your comments. I could not tell by them if you are one with depression, a provider of mental health services or a family member. So, what do you feel are the answers to your comments?
1. Drugs vs. no drugs-I have taken so many different combinations of meds. I am finally on a combination which has me somewhat stable. How I would love to be without medication but I bottom out each time I attempt to make it on my own.
2. How I know ECT causes brain damage-I have lot my memory of most of my adult life. My husband and daughter are still helping me to reform memories two years after ECT. Still, most of my life is void. Plus, they can never give me the feeling of when my husband and I first got married or what it was like when I first held and touched my babies, etc. My short term is slowly improving but still needs improvement. I was a working RN and had been a Clinical Nurse Supervisor. All of that is gone, I cannot recall it.
3. I had at least 36 treatments, sometimes two treatments during a single session. The doctor would tell my husband that he also had to “turn the juice up” to get an adequate seizure.
4. I agree, too many doctors are getting paid by the companies which manufacturer the equipment. This eliminates their objectivity.
So you see, I completely disagree with ECT. I feel it is a very damaging procedure. It has ruined my life. I feel any improvement I now have is due to support of my family, church family, therapy, and medication.
I wish you well and would love to continue to “talk” with you. I welcome conversations with anyone about ECT. I have very few I can talk to.

HeidiDecember 11th, 2010 at 9:49 am


My heart goes out to you. What you and I have in common is suffering from an iatrogenic illness, though mine is quite different (but also neurological). I have – actually, I had – arachnoiditis.

Drugs for depression – only if absolutely necessary and only on a temporary basis. The fact is that they cause brain damage, though not as dramatically as ECT (though the long term, and sometimes short term, effects of some of the drugs used for depression can have equally dramatic effects).

The doctors are getting paid each time they use the equipment – by the patients or the government. (If it’s insurance, then it’s a patient payment. After all, who pays for the insurance?) They don’t need to get paid by the companies that make the machines, though many probably do.

No, I don’t have depression, other than normal life-experience stuff. (Though that’s often treated as a medical condition.) I’m a homeopath, but find that this “give me something to fix me quick” attitude makes it tough to apply homeopathy. There are no quick fixes. I have a son with severe schizophrenia and have had doctors in the past try to convince me that my physical problems didn’t exist, that I was simply depressed – and tried to make me take their drugs. As it turned out, I had undiagnosed spina bifida with serious neurological problems. Of course, even then, doctors wanted to drug me with that stuff. So, I’ve an interest in all sorts of mental health treatments and methods of looking at them.

I’m working on an article on ECT now – the FDA is planning to loosen ECT requirements and oversight.

There is absolutely no proof that depression – or any other so-called mental illness – is a brain disease. That’s a myth created by psychiatrists and drug companies. The idea that you must jolt the brain with electricity to cause a seizure is out of the dark ages. It may be that the brain damage that occurs removes memories that led to depression, or removes the emotional content of those memories – but it doesn’t cure anything.

Did you know they’ve brought back lobotomies? They now call them cingulotomies. Now, though, they can do them with more finesse, targeting smaller areas for destruction. But, it’s still destruction. And I cannot believe that destroying part of the brain can possibly be healing.

Dr. Peter Breggin says – and I concur – that modern antidepressants and antipsychotics act by doing the equivalent of a lobotomy. But, actually, they can be much worse than lobotomies. The potential harm in those drugs is enormous, and the longer they’re taken, the worse the chances. And the damage cannot be undone.

CCGDecember 11th, 2010 at 11:58 am

My goodness, arachnoiditis, I have to admit you are the first person I have met to be diagnosed with it. Not a diagnosis I care to have. How are you? Is your son treated with conventional treatments or homeopathically?
Does your son live at home? This must be really tough. How do you handle this situation? How long has he been diagnosed? I find it funny how doctors just know that we do not have certain physical diagnosis. I had a bad auto accident in ’04 injuring my back to the point that between the injury resulting in depression and chronic debilitating pain I am unable to work. I have migraines and other problems. Most docs are very understanding but there are those that seem to question my status. Now, I have a tear in my knee due to falls. It has truly seemed like “when it rains it pours”.
You are kidding? They are going to loosen the regulations on ECT? Am I to understand the door will be open for even more ECT treatments? Oh no, what can be done? How many people must be destroyed? What will your paper on ECT be like? It is evident you are very educated, do you feel comfortable sharing your background in this forum? Or would you send your e-mail and I could write you there?
If depression is not a brain disease or mental illness, what is it? Is it a physical illness as pneumonia, heart disease or others? I find this interesting but have been told that it was mental illness for years and am not sure what the alternative is.
I find it appalling that they are doing lobotomies or cingulotomies!!!! This is barbaric!!! Again, what can be done?
I do know that I have been taking medication since ’01. I had my first experience with depression when I developed a PFO or hole in my heart and became very ill. This was after taking Redux for weight loss. I have experienced side effects from soo many of the medications. I was reading a journal and found my weight three years ago, I have gained sixty pounds in three years. The only cause that can be found is the meds I have taken, food intake has remained the same and less. If you listed possible side effects, I could check them all off. So what is the answer, take medications or not take them and continue to have severe problems. At least, that has been the experience for me. I would love to know what Dr. Breggin has to say about memory loss and any possibility of any return. Have you done any studies or research on this subject? Till we talk again…..

HeidiDecember 12th, 2010 at 8:03 am


Not much time now, but I finished the article:

FDA Plans to Limit Regulation of Electroconvulsive Therapy (

No, I’m not kidding – they most assuredly do seem intent on loosening ECT regulations. It was, in fact, through this very site that I learned of it, so dug into the situation. This site is listed in the references at the bottom of the article. Without the reporting here, I would not likely have known – and I think that people need to know about it.

I was cured of arachnoiditis by homeopathy, though at the time, I thought it was nonsense. Live and learn! I’m left with some serious neurological damage, though.

The situation with my son is not in my control. He’s an adult, lives on the street, and there are other people (such as his father) in the picture, so that leaves me without any real say. He surfaces about once or twice a year and contacts me. For the most part, he’s drugged by the courts.

My background is primarily in computer science, but that career was ended with arachnoiditis. Three years unable to work in that field combined with being over 50 doesn’t make for a likely transition back into it. I became a homeopath and produce Gaia Health, translating my skills in logic, research, and writing into a new arena.

Weight gain is common with those drugs. They mess with the endocrine system, and that’s probably one of the worst things that can be done. There’s a cascade effect, with every aspect of your body involved. That’s why they cause diabetes, heart disease, and loads more.

The answer, I think, is to first realize that there is no such thing as a brain disease, at least, not in terms of mental illness. No one has ever shown that a change in the brain causes these things. The second thing to realize is that depression is normal, and suppressing it is harmful. If you’re depressed in an unreasonable way, then you need to get to the bottom of why, not try to suppress it. Homeopathy is one approach, but there are others. Nutrition can be a significant factor. Your living situation is important. If the people surrounding you are bringing you down, then getting yourself out of it may be a solution. There’s no easy answer – but there is no answer in drugs or electroconvulsive therapy.

I’m not entirely against the use of drugs. When used cautiously and temporarily for emotional issues, they can help get through a bad time. But when they become the means of living, they do nothing that’s good.

By the way, wouldn’t you say that your depression, resulting from pain and loss of your previous life was a normal and reasonable response? Your problem wasn’t depression – it was what was making you depressed. Treating you for depression was not, in my view, appropriate. Treating you adequately for pain and helping you find a new life was the therapy you needed.

My best,

CCGJanuary 22nd, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Yes, I would say my depression is a result of what made me depressed, most certainly my accident and resulting loss of my job which I am told I was excellent at and dearly loved. And now, add to that my memory loss, my loss of my previous life, my loss of knowing who I am, what I was really like, anything. I know I dwell on this, but am daily reminded of my memory loss as I struggle with daily life. Just this week I repeated cognitive testing, hoping I will have better scores than what I had I think in 2009. But, as I tested, I became very discouraged, for the tests were very difficult for me. I couldn’t remember previous testing but I know the tests I did now were very hard for me, feeling confident only about 2 or 3. I am very concerned as to how I will handle results if they are not “good”. Will I cope will this or will I fall deeper into depression. I find out my results Feb. 7th.
I am also considering writing the psychiatrist who performed my ECT a letter asking him to meet with me. I want to know why ECT was chosen as a treatment. What was my condition, how I really was, what was I like prior to ECT, I want him to go through my chart with me. I hope this will work out to give me some resolution to that chapter of my life.
I really do not know what the answer is, I am still struggling to cope with so many changes. I cannot accept that I am different, that I am evidently not who I once was, that I am impaired, a shell of a person. I want to be the old Cyrilla, the one everyone liked and loved.

CMMay 30th, 2011 at 11:39 am

How are you doing?
You’re in my thoughts,

Allena CoantAugust 26th, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Its like you learn my mind! You appear to grasp a lot about this, like you wrote the guide in it or something. I think that you just could do with some % to power the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog. An excellent read. I’ll definitely be back.

C.K.December 28th, 2011 at 4:03 am

May I suggest to those of you suffering memory or cognitive effects from bilateral ECT switch to right unilateral ECT. I have had FAR less memory loss side effects and any short term memory loss ALWAYS resolves. I am going through a round of outpatient ECT right now and having my 4th treatment out of probably 6 before switching to maintenance ECT. ECT has been a life saver for me and I’ll take a little memory loss anyday over severe depression with no relief!

tree maintenance bloomington indianaFebruary 20th, 2012 at 2:45 am

I’ve tried numerous times to win/earn a seat as a mom running on empty and you know what they say if you don’t succeed the first time, just keep trying… So here I am wishing and hoping for a chance to earn a space in the Sacramento Confidence Workshop. This year has been interesting and pretty crazy not to mention stressful. For the past few years I have been balancing a full-time job and several side gigs, while managing a household and so many things have been left on the sidelines. At the beginning of the year I decided that I need to spend more time with the family so I took on more work in hopes to be able to quit my day job when we saved up enough money. But unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to build our nest egg before I was laid off in May. And I missed out truly enjoying my daughter’s first year of school. Her teacher said something to me that broke my heart, before school ended. She said,” it was amazing what a change she saw in her, while I was a stay at home mom. She said she seems so happy now.” Being a mom that has always had a full-time job, I felt guilty for not being there before and it has become my mission to find a job that will allow me to work from home. But this summer has been such a whirlwind. We not only had to deal with the stress of loss of income, we also had to move out our house and find a new residence so my daughter wouldn’t have to change schools. I haven’t had time to find a job that is suited for my family and fear that I’ll have to go back to commuting and missing out on those special moments. I’ve told my husband several times that I need a restart button because I’m running empty and need a boost. I need to regain focus before I lose it completely. I love photography and his been a growing passion since my father bought me my first SLR when I was in high school. I recently picked up the hobby again and would LOVE to attend the workshop. I’ve been on an emotional seesaw trying to determine if I have the talent to go into business and would love the experience of working with you MeRa Koh and learning all I can. And I would not be lying if I said my camera isn’t by my bedside every morning waiting for me. My parents live in Sacramento so it would be very easy for me to leave the kids at their house for some grandparent one-on-one time. I’m not huge on talking about myself or even airing my personal problems but this opportunity is one I have been hoping and dreaming for. I’ve applied a couple of times, and you know what they say, three times a charm, right? Hoping this is my charm. Wishing you all the best.

CarrollAugust 24th, 2012 at 7:26 am

I saw my neurologist yesterday, my routine checkup. As we discussed my memory loss and ECT treatments he made an observation. This doctor had worked side bye side with me while I worked as a nurse thus knowing my former abilities. He also knows my status now. He now states that the some 36 or so treatments I was should be considered “midieval medicine” at best. I am having a particularly difficult time right now as I watched the popular movie, “Hope Springs”. At one point the couple were told to recall the first time they saw each other, their first date, etc. I became so upset. I cannot recall any of this. I feel so inadequate. I feel like I am half a wife, mother, woman. Will it ever get better? My neurologist says no, the damage is done and after this length of time, no.

Leave a comment

Your comment:

Subscribe without commenting