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I’ve had ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) - AMA

26 replies

Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 17:07

I’ve had ECT twice now - I know it has a scary reputation and I was scared before having it so just wondered if anyone wanted to ask anything.

OP posts:
Applecottagetree · 25/11/2022 17:07

Do you feel it worked?

villamariavintrapp · 25/11/2022 17:08

If you became severely depressed again would you choose ECT?

heldinadream · 25/11/2022 17:09

The most obvious question is do you think it's helped you OP? I knew someone who had it but years and years ago and it wasn't good for her but I know it's moved on a lot. Not sure what I think of it though.
Hope you're well now!

Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 17:09

Yes - amazingly well. Before it started I was suicidal and not really able to do anything, I’d just sit on the sofa doing nothing for hours at a time. A month after it finished I was back at work functioning pretty much as normal.

OP posts:
Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 17:10

Yes I’d definitely choose it again. Still under the mental health team (who have also been great) and it’s in my care plan. I hope I never need it again but wouldn’t hesitate to have it.

OP posts:
Indoctro · 25/11/2022 17:12

So does it basically make you forget your depressed etc, as that's what I always thought.

It damages the memory permanently. Does that not worry you.?

KnickerlessParsons · 25/11/2022 17:13

Does it hurt? We're you awake?

Porridgeislife · 25/11/2022 17:13

Has it eroded any of your memory?

My mum had a course in the late 90s/early 00s and it helped a lot, but also took most of her memories of our childhoods (we were all high school at the time).

OldTinHat · 25/11/2022 17:15

Bloody hell, really?! I have this on my crisis form as a big fat NO!

But you feel its helped??

milkysmum · 25/11/2022 17:25

Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm a mental health nurse and have had several clients go through ECT with fantastic results also over the years. It's a treatment people are understandably very fearful of, but it can honestly be life changing.

hiredandsqueak · 25/11/2022 17:31

I had a course back in the nineties it didn't work for me I do have about six months where I have no real memory of. Do you have gaps in your memory too?

Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 17:50

KnickerlessParsons · 25/11/2022 17:13

Does it hurt? We're you awake?

No, I had a light general anaesthetic each time so asleep and not aware of it at all. Slight headache afterwards but sorted by paracetamol.

OP posts:
Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 17:51

I don’t think I’ve really had any memory problems as a result of ECT... episodes of severe depression have tended to affect my memory anyway. You have to have cognitive testing before, during and after ECT and my cognitive function improved with both courses, I think as the depression got better.

OP posts:
Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 17:55

Indoctro · 25/11/2022 17:12

So does it basically make you forget your depressed etc, as that's what I always thought.

It damages the memory permanently. Does that not worry you.?

no, definitely doesn’t make me just forget I’m depressed. When I’m depressed I have real problems with cognitive function and get really slowed down, it changes all of that.

the possible cognitive side effects did scare me the first time but seem to be quite transient. And they certainly haven’t caused me huge problems.

OP posts:
Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 17:56

OldTinHat · 25/11/2022 17:15

Bloody hell, really?! I have this on my crisis form as a big fat NO!

But you feel its helped??

Yes definitely. I honestly think it saved my life.

OP posts:
Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 18:02

milkysmum · 25/11/2022 17:25

Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm a mental health nurse and have had several clients go through ECT with fantastic results also over the years. It's a treatment people are understandably very fearful of, but it can honestly be life changing.

Life changing is absolutely the right way to describe it. I was so scared before I first had it but it was amazing. I know it doesn’t work for everyone but it really does for me and I’m so grateful to have had it. Incidentally the mental health nurses who have supported me through all of this have also been amazing so thank you to you for everything you do too!

OP posts:
Seasider2017 · 25/11/2022 18:06

We’re you offered this as a last resort type of thing
like AD numerous & didn’t work?

did you have any anxiety/panic attacks with your depression

Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 18:10

I didn’t have anxiety/ panic attacks - just low mood, poor sleep, poor appetite and feeling really slowed down.

I tried a couple of antidepressants before ECT was offered but there were still some other options.

OP posts:
ScottishBeth · 25/11/2022 18:10

What other treatments have you tried prior to ECT? Did they help at all?

Also how long had you been depressed before starting any treatment?

I'm interested because I had very severe depression when I was younger. When I eventually went to the GP I had anti depressants and CBT, but honestly I think it had gone on too long (years, looking back) for these to be of any help. I was lucky I was able to get extensive private psychotherapy, which helped a lot.

Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 18:17

I’d been depressed and getting steadily worse for maybe a couple of months when I first went to the GP. They gave me sertraline and referred me to the CMHT. I tried venlafaxine with aripiprazole from them but it didn’t really work, then they offered ECT. I had support from a CPN and the home treatment team but no formal psychological treatment (though I have since) as they felt I was too unwell to engage with it at the time.

@ScottishBeth I’m really glad you were able to find some therapy that helped eventually, sounds like you had a rough time.

OP posts:
Namechangedforthis60 · 25/11/2022 19:52

I am also a mental health nurse and have seen some incredible results from ECT. It’s not given very often but It definitely works in its current form! I would have it myself should I ever be in the situation to need it! Im glad to hear you’re doing so well in your recovery!

XenoBitch · 25/11/2022 22:23

I am surprised you were offered ECT after only a few months of depression, and by the sounds of it, not trying that many meds.
At my lowest, I would have begged for it. The people I do know that have had it, found it useful to keep them alive and functioning to a very limited point. Still can't work and still under CMHT. One is still distressed that she lost the memories of getting married.
I am glad it has worked for you. There are a lot of horror stories about.

newnamethanks · 25/11/2022 22:34

I had a course in the 1970s. It helped immensely. I had terrible PND and could hardly get out of bed. It was very effective and I had some short term recent memory loss, nothing significant.

Balloonsandroses · 25/11/2022 23:30

@XenoBitch to be fair that was my second course of ECT - the first was probably after a year or so of being ill and off work and trying more antidepressants than that.

OP posts:
ScruffMuffin · 27/11/2022 16:17

How would you suggest that another patient broaches the subject, and who with? Their GP to start with? I've had a problem for 40 years, have been medicated for 20 and always will be (been through seven different medications), had the NHS counselling sessions a few times when those were offered, a year of private psychotherapy in my 20s and a few CBT courses. I always thought ECT might help, but of course I don't know that, and it's never been mentioned or offered.

Do you think it would be suitable for somebody who injures easily (e.g. rib/ elbow dislocations)?

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