Getting ECT, please help: I noticed a... - Action on Postpar...

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Getting ECT, please help

TwoUnderTwo profile image

I noticed a lot of women on here had to experience ECT. Well, they are suggesting I try that starting either this week or next, to help eliminate the rest of my psychosis. Well, I am really nervous. I am afraid of dying or waking up during or severe cognitive impairment, or memory loss. Please tell me your experiences with ECT.

20 Replies
Lilybeth profile image

Hello Two under Two

I can imagine how worried you must feel. Many years ago I had ECT following PP after the births of my two sons. To be honest I was so off the planet and not as self aware as you are that I didn't really know what ECT was until I had a few sessions and felt well enough to understand. My first PP was in the mid 70's and my second in the early 80's and I'm sure much has improved since then.

Be assured you won't die! I have to say that coming round from ECT at first was a very strange feeling, I felt very dazed. I'm not very good with words but suffice to say that's the only memory I have of the whole experience. Looking back I think if the procedure had been explained to me I too would have been afraid of dying or being left with some kind of impairment, so sometimes ignorance is bliss!

All these years on I have had no lasting effects from having ECT. I'm not sure if I had six or eight sessions on both occasions but it did bring me round. It took a while for me to fully recover from PP, 12 months I think. I retained my sense of humour, my faculties were all intact and thankfully so too is my memory.

I know it's daunting but you will be asleep ....... It was used as a last resort to bring me back to reality and eventually home to my family for which I was so grateful.

Take good care of yourself.


Thanks Lilybeth!

I am just so nervous, more about being asleep and not in control. Also afraid of possible behavioral changes. But more than anything, I am afraid of it not working. Then what else is there left to do? Nothing. I pray this works. If anyone else has any experience, please chime in!

Lilybeth profile image

Hello TwounderTwo

I'm not surprised you're nervous and anxious about the outcome. Ten months ago there was a post on here asking if ECT is an effective treatment. Many chipped in and there were 20 replies so you might find some helpful comments there too.

andrea_at_app profile image
andrea_at_appVolunteer in reply to Lilybeth

Here's the thread on here that Lilybeth mentions:

Naomi_at_app profile image

Hi TwoUnderTwo really understand your apprehension. It's a big deal to make the decision to have ECT.

I had ECT two years ago, ten sessions in total. It really did help with my severe depression and I had no memory loss.

The first session was the most scary as I didn't know what to expect. But everyone at the clinic was very kind and reassuring and the whole process was explained well to me. Before the anaesthetic some monitor electrodes were stuck onto my forehead and it was all very gentle. Then I just drifted off with the anaesthetic. I found that a pleasant feeling even though I was nervous. The main thing for me when I came round in the recovery room was I'd feel quite tearful for about ten minutes. This is apparently common and nothing to worry about. In some ways I found it a relief to get my tension and emotions out.

Friends and family noticed a real difference in my mood after 4-6 sessions and I found I felt much more able to motivate myself. Each session did feel very 'clinical' and it felt weird knowing that how it works is unknown but I'm so glad I did have it as it marked the beginning of my recovery.

Wishing you all the best as you make this decision, but be assured that it is a very safe procedure and they will take good care of you and make sure the anaesthetic is for the right length of time. Feel free to chat to us anytime.

Naomi x

Florence21 profile image
Florence21Action on Postpartum Psyc

Please don't be so anxious about this treatment; its terrible reputation is largely based on very old Hollywood films like 'One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest' and unfounded rumours that it will cause major cognitive impairment. My understanding is that the way it is used nowadays it is much safer.

I haven't had ECT myself but I have spoken to several people who have and they all found it worked for them and the side effects weren't as bad as they'd feared. A friend of mine asks to have it regularly as it is the only treatment that works for her and she has definitely not suffered intellectually (she is a university lecturer). She says the worst thing she experiences is some short-term memory loss. If she has another child she has put it in her advance statement that she wants to have it in preference to anything else.

This is a link to an article which appeared in Bipolar UK's 'Pendulum' magazine which gives more information about ECT:

I hope you're out of the woods very soon - you will definitely get better so stay positive.

All the very best

andrea_at_app profile image
andrea_at_appVolunteer in reply to Florence21

That's a really useful article Florence21, thanks!

Those of you who had delusions, did they go away afterwards? Thats my biggest problem.

JonesieB profile image

Hi TwoUnderTwo,

I completely understand how nervous you are and all the reasons why. I had ECT when I had PP 8 years ago. I too remember feeling like it was a dramatic measure and I was also very scared by it. Looking back now, it may well have contributed to a speedy recovery for me, I was completely back to my old self within a year of having PP.

As others have said you really don't know much about it due to the general anaesthetic. The team who looked after me were very kind and reassuring.

I haven't suffered any long term effects from it, my memory is absolutely fine and I haven't experienced any mental illness at all since my PP episode in 2005.

My mum and husband were the ones who had to decide whether to go ahead with the ECT as I wasn't well enough to make the decision. They spoke to a family friend who was a psychiatrist to get a second opinion and he was very helpful. Perhaps a second opinion from another perinatal psychiatrist would make you feel better?

Whatever you decide, we are here to listen and help if we can. Sending you lots of strength, hugs and hope. You will get better.



Lilybeth profile image

Hello TwounderTwo,

There's another post on here from one year ago entitled "Delusions of Grandeur and other Religious Experiences" (I'm not too good at giving links but if you type this into 'search' you can find it). It was a great idea by Helen and fascinating to read everyone's experience of their delusions.

My delusions are there .............. thinking that I knew everything that happened before it was reported in the news. I was so convinced and very upset that my family didn't believe me that I retreated to my bed. My worst psychotic thought was that I heard a voice commanding me to self harm, which I did. Very frightening times.

Thankfully after receiving ECT, ongoing medical and family support I did not have any more delusions ...... until the birth of my second son. As mentioned before all this was years ago and I have not had any mental health issues since.

It's a big decision to make yourself. As with JonsieB my husband and parents made the decision for me as I was so unwell.

Take good care of yourself. We are all here to lean on.

I can tell you mine right now is that none of you exist. Only I exist. My imagination you are all living in.

Which scares me because I believe in God. I am not sure is my medication or doctors are even real. Or my baby. With that thought, all morality goes out the window. I am having bad suicidal and nihilistic thoughts. I go in Monday for a consultation for ECT, but I want to turn myself in now.


Also, before that I was convinced I was the best mother in the worls with the best baby in the world. He was perfect and so was I. Then I hallucinated a couple times and now here I am, thinking that I am the only real person in the world. And im suffering because no one is listening to me.

andrea_at_app profile image

Hi TwoUnderTwo, how are you feeling now? I'm so sorry you're suffering at the moment, I know it's really hard to believe but you will get better.

I understand how unreal & scary everything feels right now. Talking to virtual people here probably feels even more unreal. But we are real people & we are listening to you when you write here. We're here if you need us.

Is there someone who can be with you over the next couple of days? I found it really helped not to be alone when feeling suicidal. Also, they can help you look after your baby. Do you have a crisis team/ care team & do they know how you're feeling? It might be a good idea to keep their phone number to hand. If things get really bad, you know to get help, don't be alone, ring 999, go to A&E or ring the Samaritans 08457 90 90 90.

Your ECT consultation on Monday will make things a lot clearer. You can ask questions & discuss any fears you have to see if it's right for you. If it helps, you could write some questions down so you don't forget to ask.

Your medication is real, are you managing to take it ok? It's sometimes hard to remember to take regularly & a family member can help you with that.

Hang in there. There is hope, your delusions will go & everything will feel real again. We're here for you.

I am feeling okay, just hanging in there. They told me postpartum diseases are easily treated by ECT, but that I still have to wait until Monday. I'm really scared all the time that no one really exists and that it's only me. I hate that feeling. I believe in God that also scares me :( I just wish it was several months down the road and I'm fine again.

I do have a crisis team, from my last hospital stay. I am in America, so our system is a little different, we don't have near the resources for postpartum care, like no mother baby hospitals or anything like that. It's awful. ECT is rarely used here as well, we think everything can be cured by medicine.

Lilybeth profile image

Hang in there, things will be a lot clearer after the weekend. It would be a good idea if someone could stay with you until Monday?

All the care medical care I received was in a general psychiatric hospital as there were no mother and baby units in the 70's. I was treated with care as I'm sure you will be. I'm sorry you are struggling but please rest assured you will be fine soon.

Keep in touch over the weekend if you can, we'll be here for you.

I decided to check myself in a little early, I just don't feel safe at home even with my husband and kids here. I get to talk to the psych on Monday, I am nervous and looking forward to it at the same time. I just want to get to the point where I can start to recover.

Lilybeth profile image

Good for you, I'm really pleased you have checked in early. It will be much better for you as you can concentrate on getting yourself well without also having to cope with the routine of life and caring for your family. I'm sure your husband is a great support.

This is the turning point when you can knock all those delusions on the head and feel much better for it. It's understandable to be nervous but I think the benefits outweigh your doubts. In time you will be able to feel much better surrounded by the love of your family.

Thinking of you, take good care.

andrea_at_app profile image

Hi TwoUnderTwo, I hope your appointment went well yesterday. We're thinking of you & we're here if ever you need us. Take care loads.

We decided to make a last ditch effort and to try an antidepressant first. Bupropion is what I am trying. I am giving it three weeks. If there is no improvement, we will go for ECT.

Lilybeth profile image

Hi, thanks for taking the time to reply. I hope the medication will help, is that enough time for it to take effect?

Sounds like you have a good plan anyway.

Take good care.

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