ECT - thoughts and opinions please?

Hi all. I haven't written for a while as I have been struggling with anxiety no depression again and wondering why since I have continued with my medication but have started with my symptoms again. ECT was suggested in the MBU but I never went through with it. I have had an appointment with my consultant today and ECT was discussed. Can anyone give me any information on what it is like or whether it has helped anyone on this forum who has suffered with PPP. We have a multidisciplinary meeting on Tuesday to decide a way forward and I am willing to try anything so I can look forward to the future and time with my family. X x

17 Replies

  • ECT can be a very good treatment for PP sufferers. My wife underwent two courses at different times and in both cases it proved immediately effective and no negative effects. Forget media depictions of people being administered ECT while concious, and scary after effects - that's not modern ECT at all. There's a helpful summary from the Royal College of Psychiatrists at

  • Hi bethanylj,

    Thanks for your post. Sorry to hear you are experiencing anxiety again.

    I was unwell with the depressive aspect of pp when I underwent ect. Like you I was cautious about going for it because you hear bad press about it but also like you I was willing to give anything a try for a better future.

    My experience with it was, I'm happy to say, wholly positive. The procedure (being put to sleep being the only bit you're conscious of) was absolutely fine and after just a couple of sessions I started to get better. I experienced no ill effects.

    I initially signed up to a course of eight treatments I think, but the improvement after six was great so we stopped there. Having tried all sorts of medication for the depression that I was experiencing I can honestly say that ect was what gave me a much needed boost.

    I know my situation is not exactly the same as yours as your overriding symptoms at the moment are anxiety but I wanted to share my experience of it with you and let you know that if you have any more questions about the practicalities of it please feel free to ask.

    All the best,


  • Hello bethanylj

    Good to hear from you although I'm sorry you're struggling with anxiety which can be very draining. Did you manage your planned holiday to Spain?

    I can honestly say I think ECT was a big turning point in my recoveries, many years ago now, in the mid 70's and early 80's when I suffered PP twice six years apart. I was very ill, medication wasn't working on its own and I was sectioned to general psychiatric care for my own safety. At the time my husband consented on my behalf to this treatment as I had completely shut down. I had a few courses, initially seven, with my first PP to bring me round and more followed. I don't recall the procedure as I was fast asleep. I do remember waking with a really bad headache but like amyfj I had no ill effects. I had a similar experience and treatment with my second PP except I had ECT as an outpatient in times of crisis during my recovery from what seemed like an endless depression. All these years on my memory has not been impaired and I'm still working.

    I hope your meeting goes well next week. ECT was key to my complete recoveries and I have been able to enjoy so much with my treasured sons and family.

    Take care ..... thanks for sharing. Sending you a virtual hug :)

  • ECT was suggested for me to aid my recovery from PP, I declined, only because my mum had a course of it for her PP in the 70's, her memory was badly affected and although it did lift her mood briefly, it wasn't a resounding success at all. But I hasten to add, this was the 70's. Now I can see it has vastly improved over the years with regard to patient care while undertaking ECT, I just couldn't get the image of my mum out of my head. It doesn't work for everybody, but if things really are rock bottom, maybe it's worth a go?

    I hope your anxiety settles for you and a positive way forward for your treatment can be implemented at the MD hearing.

    Take care x

  • Hi Bethanylj,

    Sorry to hear things are hard at the moment. I had ECT when treated for PP in 2009. Like others, I was too unwell to consent to it initially but it was very much a case of trying something different as medication wasn't working well or quick enough at that time. I think, in my case, it was very much a turning point and made the necessary improvements quickly - as I was becoming very physically unwell as well as mentally due to not eating and drinking and generally having been very manic and psychotic. I had then sort of "burned out" and gone to the opposite extreme, so ECT was something that I believe really kick-started that part of my recovery.

    I remember when I "came round" after the first few weeks in hospital/ MBU, which I don't recall, and being told about the ECT I'd had. The request was that I continue the treatment as it had made a big difference so far - which I agreed to. So I do remember those latter sessions; going to the ECT Suite, having the anaesthetic, and then waking up a little time later. The effects that I recall are having a dry mouth and feeling a bit dazed (but this might also have been the stage I was at anyway, with being quite overwhelmed and still quite anxious and "shellshocked" from the whole PP experience). Before I was discharged home I also had an MRI scan to check any changes from the treatment, which is routine from what I was told.

    Those first weeks in hospital are a blank in my memory, and I do wonder if this was partly the ECT. But I have to say they were very bad weeks from what I have been told, and I have come to terms with having "lost" that time, as it is a short period compared to the rest of my life. I do think that our brain protects us at times too, or that's how I like to think of it. Someone said to me recently that whilst still in hospital there were things I couldn't remember (holidays, places, people) but I now do remember them, so again I think that was a temporary thing associated with the PP, rather than ECT (or it certainly wore off, as I healed more). The link provided above gives some good information which I hope will be helpful to you. The treatment now is certainly a lot different than in the past, although still very much hidden - if someone had told me 10 years ago that I would have it, I wouldn't have believed it!

    I hope some of this makes sense and is useful to you, and that the meeting goes well to decide next steps on your recovery journey. You will get to where you want to be, and enjoy your future with your family, hang in there... Thinking of you, take care, xx

  • Hi Bethanylj,

    I don't have personal experience of ECT but there was a piece on BBC radio 2 Jeremy Vine show yesterday (at about 1.30pm) on ECT. It is probably accessible online.

    The main sense that came across to me was that ECT can be really effective when nothing else works. Some people phoned in with horror stories but they were usually describing the treatment in the 70s and a lot has changed making it more humane. I suppose the important thing to remember if you do listen to others' experiences is that everyone is unique and you need to consider what's right for you.

    When working in a hospital I have seen people go from being catatonic and basically unable to talk, eat or do anything to being able to chat away and laugh again so it can be very effective but I think it's best always to treat it as a last resort when other things don't work.

    Hazello x

  • Hi Bethanylj.

    I have only just seen your post. I had pp at xmas 2013. I had 4 lots of E C T and sware that's what made me 100 % better. I didn't have any ill effects and all my family said how well I responded after the 1st one. It played a huge part in my recovery. I hope this helps you and you feel better really soon. If I can help in any other way, please shout. Warm Regards, Anna xx

  • Hello bethanylj

    I hope the replies here were helpful and that your meeting with the Consultant on Tuesday goes well. It's not easy coping with anxiety so take good care of yourself. xx

  • Thank you so much for all your replies. It's really comforting that there are positive stories. I'm really unsure of what's going on at the moment. I seem to have days were I cope really well and feel like I don't need any treatment and then totally swing the other way, become anxious, depressed, suicidal and unable to cope. It passes but while I'm in that moment it's horrible. I don't know what it is? Having never been depressed before I'm not sure whether it is depression. It just seems to come over me to where I become confused, disorientated and inconsolable. It's very very strange. I take a diazepam and come round after a couple of hours but the whole experience traumatises me in case I get to the point where I do something silly. I don't think after 15 months this is normal and it's worrying me in case it's something I'm always going to have to deal with because I honestly think I'm not strong enough. X x thanks for all those who have commented and will update you all on Tuesday. I also have a holiday booked - booked when I felt well - I go the first week in May and really don't want to ruin it for everyone x x

  • Hello bethanylj

    I hope your meeting went well today and you felt supported.

    Take care.

  • Hello bethanylj

    I hope you managed to go on holiday and were able to enjoy a break with your family.

    Take care.

  • Hi all just an update. I have been offered 6 sessions of ECT but they have been a bit vague and have left the decision solely to me as to whether I go through with it or not. I have an appointment on Friday to sign the consent forms and could start treatment within weeks. I'm so undecided as I do have some good moments but on the whole I am very depressed and confused. Tired all the time, lacking motivation and generally sad. I'm scared about making such a huge decision and know that no one can tell me to go ahead with it or not but I'm really just asking for thoughts and opinions. X x thanks in advance Beth

  • Hello Bethanylj

    Good to hear from you. I think when I was recovering from PP I had some good days but was mainly overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts and depression. As you are more aware than I was it is must be a big decision to make for yourself. I mentioned earlier that when PP first hit me I was completely switched off and not communicating. My delusions were such that I became a completely different person with such terrible thoughts which no one understood.

    Medication wasn't working quickly enough and so I had ECT. When I was first sectioned to the psychiatric unit I had to be given 7 ECT treatments before I started to communicate. I can honestly say that this treatment made such a difference. With my second PP I had ECT in times of crisis when I wasn't coping with my thoughts at home. After a while my depression began to improve and I eventually fully recovered.

    I don't know whether medication alone would have worked but I think it would have taken me longer to recover. It's a lot for you to weigh up on your own and go through but it worked for me and I had no after effects except a fuzzy headache. All these years on I have a good life, I'm working, I have a good sense of humour and found my happy place again at home.

    I'll be thinking of you on Friday. Stay safe and take care.

  • Hello bethanylj

    Thinking of you today and hope you will be ok.

    Stay safe and take care.

  • Hi bethanylj, I hope that things went OK for you yesterday, we have all been thinking of you and are wishing you well. Take care and write here if you need to, we are here for you. Xx

  • Hi all I had my first ECT session on Thursday and understand I wont feel any difference yet. I'm not going to lie the whole process was very daunting and scary and I'm still not sure whether I'm doing the right thing but will be going for another session on Tuesday and will decide whether to go for any more based on that experience. There are two sessions planned this week Tues and Thurs which seems a bit intense with not much recovery time. The headaches on the first session were unbearable.

    I had a bad day yesterday as I decided I would try to see whether I could also go without my Olanzapine 2.5mg. I hate taking it and have tried to go without before only to get my initial symptoms back. I've begun taking them again and feel better but am mad that I cant go without them. (hope this makes sense).

    I will update you all next week and thanks for your continued support.


  • Hello bethanylj

    Good to hear from you. It took a lot of courage to go to your first session of ECT and I can understand how daunting it was. I wasn't aware of my first sessions of ECT as I wasn't communicating for a while but towards the end of the course, when I was more aware, I was very apprehensive.

    I'm sorry you had a bad day yesterday going without medication. I tried that years ago, with a different medication and regretted my decision a short time later. When we have had PP I think we are so eager to show our family and friends that we are recovering and rush to be well. I'm glad you have restarted your medication as it will keep you stable.

    It's not easy coping with routine and going through treatment so you are doing really well. Take care ...... wishing you all the best for next week.

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