Anyone in the middle of ECT?

I just found this site and see some good, helpful posts. It looks like a very sympathetic group! I see a lot of people here have pretty severe depression and are considering ECT. I finally made the decision to do ECT, which has me pretty nervous. Yesterday was my first treatment. Of course, it wasn't as bad as expected. But I was wondering if anyone out there in could tell me how you felt during the treatments? I was a bit dizzy for a little while after the treatment, but the main symptom has been a headache. I did the right lateral, and it especially hurts where I believe the shock actually happened. It got a little better when I had lunch and after a nap, but remained the rest of the day, which didn't surprise me. But I woke up this morning, and it's still there. I was really hoping to feel better on the days between treatments. If anyone wants to share there experience and any tips to surviving the next 4-8 weeks, I'd greatly appreciate it. Right now, I'm sitting here unable to drive and feeling pretty alone! Thanks.

23 Replies

  • I haven't had the treatment but often considered it as have had so much depression in my life. I hope it goes well and makes a positive difference for you. Mags

  • Thanks, Mags. I like your crazylazy name, by the way. If you think you might want to go forward with ECT, let me know. I've read a lot and talked to a lot of doctors. (But it still took five different psychiatrists suggesting ECT before I admitted it was time.) If you can give me a couple of weeks, I can also tell you more about my actual experience! Thanks for your thoughts! -- B

  • I had 12 treatments over a 4 week period. It wasn't until the last week that I began to experience relief. I rested on the days I had it done and was kind of foggy throughout the whole thing. I had unilateral treatments as well. When I returned home afterward I had lost a lot of memories and was confused for awhile. I remember not knowing where my silverware drawer was in the kitchen.

    Though my thinking has cleared I still have memory impairment to a degree but I am functional.

    Good luck on your treatments!

  • Thanks. You said you didn't feel relief until the last week. How much relief did you feel that last week and how long did it last? Have you had to have any maintenance treatments? I'm anxious about the whole thing because it obviously doesn't take away the problems you experience in real life, but only removes (maybe) the obstacles you have to therapy. Eleven more treatments...ugh

  • The depression was gone! but it only lasted for 2 weeks unfortunately. I am not in an area that has ECT so I couldn't continue.

    If you have a great support system you should be okay. Unfortunately I live alone and hide my suffering.

    Another thing I will say is that I didn't do self care like I should have and that may have contributed to the rapid relapse.

    If you can get maintenance treatments you may do quite well. It was really the only thing that worked for me. Right now I am getting out socially as much as possible and it seems to help but I still struggle with it.

    Good luck to you sweet friend

  • Thank you for your kind words. I wish you luck as well, my friend! You mention hiding your suffering. That's exactly what I do. Doing ECT and going on disability from work has brought me into this strange world revolving around the treatments where everybody I see knows about my struggles. It is very humbling, and it feels pretty weird. For instance, I have a friend who is taking me to the treatments that previously had no idea what I've been going through. So I felt like I owed her at least a high level summary of what's been going on in my hidden little world. While driving there, I told her about it but added that I was not going to commit suicide. However, I didn't say anything to her about my thoughts of what it would be like. But then I had to answer the very direct doctor questions in front of her and fess up to everything. It just feels like my life is an open book, and again, very weird. That said, I do have a few friends checking in on me and a couple of psychiatrists besides the ECT team that I'll keep in contact with throughout. I've been warned that the maintenance treatments are likely.

    Seriously, my thoughts and prayers are with you, too. I really appreciate you sharing your experience with me, and I really hope you are able to continue getting out socially as much as you can. I've been given that same advice and I agree it is both helpful and it is hard to do. Hang in there and let me know if you need to talk.

    One to my second treatment. See ya on the other side!

  • Have you tried That's what I did when I was single and I met many nice people. You find a group in your area based on your interests or hobbies where you meet like-minded people whether it be hiking, pets,technology, etc. The list is almost endless!

  • I had 10 out of 12 treatments many years ago ( I'm gonna say15 but since memory loss is a major side effect,...) I only had a headache after the first one, but my GP prescribed something for the pain. My spine got messed up. I was told I would be given a paralyzingly agent and all that would move was a twitch in my little finger, but they had us lined up like cattle in stalls and before they put me under I could hear gurneys thrashing around from convulsing bodies up and down the row. They were supposed to X-ray my spine prior to treatments, they did not. A spinal surgeon told me I have the back of an 85 yr old construction worker ( I'm 54). I can watch movies over and over and still be surprised at the ending. My memories are gone. I had suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1984 and I have bipolar, so this nasty info may not pertain to you. I've heard it helps some people.

  • That's scary. I'm so sorry you had to go through all this. Hearing other people convulsing sounds horrible. But losing your memory sounds like the worst thing of all. There were no other patients in the "ECT Theater" while I was in there, but I've definitely been worried about the memory problems. Good luck with everything.

  • Thank you sweetie,

    I don't want to frighten you, I just want to tell you the truth as it pertains to me. I'm sorry I did it.

  • Haha. No need to apologize. I appreciate your honest input. When they mess with your brain, it is kind of scary and the only people who truly understand it is those who've actually done them. Seriously, copasedic, thank you for your input.

  • You are so very welcome! I wouldn't wish it on my dog 😫

  • My thoughts and prayers are with you. I can't imagine what you have gone through.

  • If God's on your side, who can be against you?!

  • Romans 8:31 - I love it and it is so true.

  • Amen!

  • My daughter has gone through a series of ect treatments and it has helped her so much. Before she got them she was catatonic. She still has a mild headache after but her memories are still there. I believe it was the best thing for her.

  • That is great news. Congrats to your daughter! It is definitely encouraging to hear success stories! I had my second treatment today and don't have as bad a headache as I did after the first one. I asked, and they said it would hurt less each treatment. I'm curious, how soon after the treatments began did your first see improvement?

  • I would say that after the third one she showed a great deal of improvement. But she does take a 1300 mgs. of lithium among other drugs. Now at 40 she can take care of her 10 mo. old baby girl.

  • That is wonderful news that she can take care of her baby. I'd say that's a good trade: ECT and lithium for the ability to be with baby! My doctor also suggested lithium to reduce the likelihood of relapse. But I had a not-great experience on it before and psychiatrist said no. However, I will be going on Nardil, which is an MAOI drug with pretty significant food and medicine restrictions. I hope your daughter's experience of improvement at three treatments works out for me, since I have two down already.

    Thank you so much, nmn!

  • My opinion is that it's barbaric...ive seen the bad after-effects. I do hope it cures ur depression. 😊💛💚💛💚

  • I'm 5 treatments in, and I wish I knew what to except to feel. So far the headache is the only guarantee. I feel like there is a lot of pressure on me to get better. I don't want to let my loved ones down. If anyone has words of wisdom I'd greatly appreciate them. I'm feeling very lonely not having anyone understand the process.

  • I've had similar discussions with my counselor. Her main advice is that every person is different and each treatment day is different from each other, so just accept whatever I'm feeling as reality for my situation on that particular day. (ie. I shouldn't feel guilt, pressure, etc, my usual modus operandi!). She also keeps my expectations reasonable by making sure I understand ECT is not meant to replace the need to work with her on long-buried issues. I just finished my 10th treatment yesterday. Feel free to contact me if you would like to talk with anyone during the process. You took a major step forward when you agreed to do ECT (and if you, like me, had to go onto a leave of absence from work because of me), but it is not like everything suddenly becomes easy once you start.

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