ECT

Hi Ladies- hope you all are well. I'm writing because my ppp journey continues. I started getting ect treatments about 4 weeks ago, Ive had 10 treatments and seemed to have had some success. My doctor took me off of my medication so I'm only doing ect now. The issue is I don't want to do it forever and it seems like he's weaning me off very slowly over a period of several months. Just wanted to know if any of you have had ect and what your experience was? Thank you.

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  • Hello nchyme

    Good to hear from you. I think I mentioned in your other thread that I had ect and found it really helpful. During my first PP I had 7 treatments in a psychiatric unit to begin with as I wasn't communicating and had been sectioned. I was also taking medication at the time. More sessions followed to lift my mood and I eventually fully recovered. Ect also featured in my second PP. My first sessions were in hospital and I had more sessions as an outpatient in times of crisis as I was still prone to self harm and acting impulsively. I was also battling depression at the time so I wasn't in a good place for a while.

    In my case it was a very effective treatment and worked when medication didn't. Try not to worry, you won't be on it forever. I'm not sure how the treatments are monitored. Perhaps when your doctor is satisfied that you are more stable, he will discontinue ect and put you back on medication? I'm only supposing this as I'm not a medic.

    It's quite an overwhelming treatment so please be gentle with yourself and take care.

  • Hi nchyme, I had ect as part of my treatment for pp nearly 8 years ago now. It was a case of trying something different whilst in the first weeks of my illness medication wasn't working, or at least it wasn't working quickly enough. In my case, the treatment made a huge difference and was the kickstart I needed to get me through those awful months, together with the right balance of meds (anti-psychotic and lithium, which I took for a year and 3 years respectively). I had 12 ect treatments altogether (I think) although I can only remember the last few sessions as I have a blank for a few weeks earlier on. And whilst I say I remember them, I remember going to the area of hospital it was done and having the anaesthetic then waking up afterwards, a little tired and dazed. But it made a big difference to me and can be an effective treatment. Recovery from pp can be hard and take a while. Hang on in there, try and be patient and kind to yourself (easier said than done, I know!) and you will get to where you want to be. Take care, xx

  • Thank you for the response! I agree that recovery from pp is hard and takes a while- I still have guilt and shame for my behavior when I was psychotic 7 months ago. Initially they prescribed me zoloft and it seemed to make things so much worse. I did not receive appropriate care initially and I've had a really hard time coming to terms with that. I became suicidal while on zoloft and I just carry the images of my attempt with me in my head, it is so painful and I wonder when they will fade...

  • Hannah, did you experience any permenantl ill effects from ect?

  • Hello again nchyme, apart from the slight headache immediately afterwards, which Lilybeth also mentioned, I've had no permanent ill effects. Whilst I can't remember the first few weeks I was in hospital I understand that this could be due to the ect - but I also think it could have been due to the trauma of the illness.

    I work and have a full and happy life, I really don't think the treatment has affected me negatively. Before I was discharged from hospital I had an MRI/ CT scan which is something you may want to ask about too - I think it's quite normal after ect, to check for any issues after the treatment. Mine was fine and I've not had any issues.

    I hope this helps you, it might also help you to have a discussion with your healthcare professionals. Take care, all the best, xx

  • Hannah did your emotions become blunted after ect?

  • Hi nchyme, I was quite "flat" for some time in my recovery from pp, but I don't think this is attributable to the ect. The meds I was taking were also very sedating and my dr described it is as a "chemical flattening" which really resonated with me. I think that recovery from this illness can be tough, up and down, and take time. But I am absolutely back to myself and my emotions are still as they should be. I'm sorry that you're feeling so worries about the treatment. Have you managed to talk to a supportive professional about your fears? I will be thinking of you, this is such a tough time. If you can get through it, we are all Herero listen. Take care. Xx

  • Hello nchyme

    Thanks for reaching out for support through these hard days. We really do understand that it's not easy, especially as it's early in your recovery. Are you still seeing your therapist twice a week as well as ECT treatment? I think it's important to keep talking so that you can get support and eventually come to terms with everything you have been through.

    What happened to us during the awful psychosis was out of our control ..... we really had no choice. In time you will be able to park the guilt and shame knowing that you are a great mum. You have done really well considering you didn't have the right care at first. Some days are hard but keep talking and don't isolate yourself because of your unfounded guilt.

    Try to distract yourself from the negative feelings. Is it possible to meet a friend just for coffee and a chat? Make sure that you tell your care team how painful and raw the memories are so that they can support and reassure you. You have had such a traumatic illness that will take a while to heal. Years ago I also felt guilt and shame but since sharing experiences with other mums here I have come to accept that I wasn't a bad mother and my self harm attempts were more a cry for help than anything more.

    We are all here to talk if it helps. Take care.

  • Thanks Lilybeth- do you think you suffered side effects or brain damage from the ECT?

  • Hello nchyme

    I didn't have any side effects, just sometimes a headache but that was all. I haven't had any ill effects, my memory is good and I'm still working. Just hold on to the courage that has carried you this far .... I know it seems endless but you will have better days.

    Thinking of you, take care.

  • Lilybeth, I've read some very troubling articles online about brain damage caused by ect. I'm just really scared.

  • Thank you. I'm really worried about the ect side effects, it's been hard. I'm glad you've suffered no ill effects though!

  • Hello nchyme

    I can understand how worried you must be. There have been a few posts on the forum about ECT experiences and if you type ECT into the search box you might feel reassured. Perhaps before your next treatment you might be able to talk about your worries to your consultant? I was treated under general psychiatric care and thankfully had no permanent ill effects.

    Take care and please keep in touch if we can help.

  • Hello nchyme

    Within the posts on the forum there's a helpful summary from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK, the link being rcpsych.ac.uk/expertadvice/...

    Take care .... thinking of you.

  • Thank you I'm feeling very afraid.

  • Hello nchyme

    I can understand that you are feeling afraid. Perhaps you can talk to the Consultant about your fears so that you can be reassured? For me, ect worked quicker than medication as I was not communicating and very ill at the time. I hope you have support around you.

    Stay safe and take care.

  • Lilybeth did your emotions become blunted after ect?

  • Hello nchyme

    It took a few treatments for me to become aware of my surroundings. After my first PP I was in various units for six months before I went home, although this was a long time ago. After my second PP I was mainly treated at home and had ECT initially as an inpatient and then as an outpatient in times of crisis.

    Thankfully my emotions are intact and not blunted. I found ECT worked for me and fortunately I had no ill effects even though I had a lot of treatments because I had PP twice.

    I can see how hard it must be for you to have this choice. Like Hannah, the decision to have ECT was made for me as I wasn't communicating. I can honestly say it made such a difference in my recoveries and I had no ill effects.

    I hope you have support around you. Take care and please keep in touch if we can help.

  • Hi Nchyme,

    I'm sorry you're feeling afraid about the ECT. I agree with Lilybeth that if you can talk through with your consultant / mental health team supporting you, how you are feeling.

    I don't have personal experience of ECT but I did want to tell you that I have heard several women's experience of having ECT and they have said that though it was difficult and emotional, that it was positive in the end and really helped them (some even said it saved their life!), and it sounds like you have been feeling some benefits already?

    I can't remember if you have some access to therapy / counselling, as it really sounds like you need some support to deal with all the difficult memories, and everything that happened with your PP?

    Thinking of you XX

  • Hello nchyme

    I hope you are well and recovering in your own time.

    Take care.

  • Thank you Lilybeth, I'm having such a hard time I fear my memory has been impacted by the ect, I'm having a hard time remembering things recently....

  • Hello nchyme

    Good to hear from you. I'm sorry you're having a hard time following ect. Are you in the middle of sessions or have you finished a course? Just to reassure you, memory loss is usually a short term side effect and you will probably find that your memory returns as you recover.

    ECT is a hard choice but with good after care support you will eventually notice an improvement. I really hope you have support around you at home as it's not easy coping with routine when you are going through so much. We are all here to support you if it helps to get through the difficult days.

    Stay safe and take care.

  • Thank you Lilybeth. I finished up about 4 weeks ago. My husband and I have marital problems. This has been so hard. I'm so afraid these memory problems will be permenant. I'm just having such a hard time. I'm in therapy 1x/week and it seems to help but the memory problems really scare me.

  • Hi nchyme I'm sorry to hear you're having memory problems after ect, try not to worry. It is one of the side effects but in the majority of cases it does go. I know it's hard not to feel anxious about it.

    That's so hard you're having marital problems too.. you are most definitely not alone in that. It really takes its toll on a relationship. Things were so hard for me and my partner a few years after pp, we just weren't communicating, and I couldn't seem to make it any better. But slowly we got there, I have to say a bit of a turning point was when we went away alone together for one night... maybe you could consider something like that? Perhaps when you're feeling a bit stronger and more recovered?

    Thinking of you xx

  • Hello nchyme

    Sorry to hear about your problems at home. This is such a difficult time for relationships and very hard for partners to sometimes understand. My PP took its toll on my husband and unfortunately he did have a breakdown while I was recovering. Try to keep talking to each other. We eventually weathered the storm and were stronger as a family.

    I know it's hard but try not to worry, I had a lot of ect having had PP twice and my memory is still intact. Give yourself time and hopefully the therapy you are having will help you.

    Thinking of you ....... take care.

  • Thank you. As the days go by my memory seems to be worsening and Ive read so much scary stuff online Im very afraid I have brain damage. Im crying right now so frightened and unsure of what to do and how Im going to be able to care for my baby.

  • Hello nchyme

    I'm sorry you are so upset. Has your therapist been able to reassure you or can you ask the psychiatrist to allay your fears? Perhaps having an MRI / CT scan as Hannah mentioned in an earlier reply would help? Try not to put so much pressure on yourself.

    Take care.

  • Hi nchyme

    I'm sorry to hear you are upset and worried. I would really encourage you to get an appointment with your Dr and explain your fears, there should be some further information and guidance they can give you. Did you have any sort of scan after the treatment finished, perhaps this is something you can ask about?

    I was talking the other week to someone about the time period when I had ect and they told me about conversations then where I'd forgotten places and events from before my pp. But I absolutely remember them with no problem now, even if that particular conversation is a little vague, when I didn't remember.

    What I guess I'm trying to say is that this may be temporary and recover from this bump in the road on your recovery journey. I don't know if the Royal College link might be helpful to start a conversation with your Dr about your worries: rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/...

    I can only speak of my own experience of ECT and how 7+ years on I am well and truly thankful that it was part of my treatment alongside medication and support from a mother and baby unit and others, both family/ friends and professionals. Memory can be a difficult thing to understand and our memories can be good and bad due to several reasons, which can also be changeable.

    Recovery from pp is so tough at times and I was certainly on that bumpy road during the years after my episode. Please hang in there and I hope you can talk to an understanding health professional who will be able to help you further. Take care, xx

  • Thank you, my doctor will not meet with me he told me if I no longer do ect then I am not his other and I'm discharged from his practice, he abondoned me and its very painful.

  • Hi nchyme, I'm so sorry to hear that your Dr is not being supportive. Is there another professional you can ask to see? I'm aware that you are in the US and I don't have experience of how the healthcare system there works, being in the UK, so I'm sorry I can't help any further. I hope you can get some answers soon, and in the meantime, please try to rest up and relax, we're all thinking of you and wishing you all the best, xx

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