ECT Lessons-I’ve-Learned #5: after ECT, treatment continues

My psychiatrist Dr. A tore out  for me a new article from this month’s Archives of General Psychiatry entitled “Effect of Concomitant Pharmacotherapy on Electroconvulsive Therapy Outcomes.” Written by Harold Sackeim, et al., their research found that “treatment with nortriptyline (a second-generation tricyclic)  enhanced the efficacy and reduced the cognitive adverse effects of ECT relative to the placebo, and Venlafaxine (Effexor)  resulted in weaker degree of improvement and tended to worsen cognitive adverse effects (but still better than placebo).” They also concluded that high-dosage right unilateral ECT equaled or surpassed in efficacy to bilateral ECT and caused less cognitive side effects. (Here’s an article about this study from Medical News Today.)

We’ve probably encountered the stats that the effectiveness of ECT is somewhere between 70-90%. Though I wasn’t led to believe that I would be free from medication after the ECT, but it wasn’t made that clear to me that without any augmentation the relapse rate for ECT is around 50%, and according to one 2007 study, the rate could be up to 100%. So, I’d like to think that ECT just eradicates our lifetime of madness, but we need to realize that there are still work to be done after the little sparks are over. That may mean just continuing with your old meds, adding lithium, or turning back to ECT. I know that by the time we’re considering ECT, we are barely able to make it through the day, but I think it’s better to ask and know upfront what turns your life could take post-ECT rather than be surprised by something that’s already been documented that it might happen.


Read other “lessons”


6 Responses to “ECT Lessons-I’ve-Learned #5: after ECT, treatment continues”

  1. I understand that life can be tough and you are depressed but PLEASE do some research on this. I am an advocate of the Citizens Commission for Human Rights, There is much information there to really educae you on this subject. They have a Museum of Death that shows the truth about this. Also look on youtube for videos.This is not and will never be an answer

  2. Shock treatments are evil. Especially, when they are forced on you. Four years ago I was at a state hospital without hope. A doctor approached me and said shock treatments would help and I would be free faster. I signed an agreement that would protect the hospital if anything bad happened. They started with Bilateral treatments. I was a zombie. For those that don’t know bilateral is, Its when they shock you on both sides of the brain. I would ask to speak to the doctor in order to slow down the treatments with no luck. A year later a I took them to court. They offered to drop the Jarvis order, if I agreed to another year of treatments. I stupidly agreed and they started giving me 3 ECT treatments a week. Even though they were giving me unilateral treatments, I was still a lot slower and memories were lost. They would bring me down in restraints to the operating room yelling and screaming. I asked to speak to the doctor in charge with no luck. They would say that it was out of their hands. Meanwhile, they were making a large sum of money off my medical insurance. The treatments made me worse and they increased my medicine as I was locked up every other month. In Jan 2010, I was assigned a new doctor and social worker. They took pity on me after 78 shock treatments and stopped them. Today, I have slight brain damage and no short term memory at all. I am hoping my brain heals completely. What I want all people to know is be careful if you choose ECT as a treatment. Make sure there is a overall limit to them and that they are low. Maybe 5 to 10 treatments total. I am convinced the hospital that did this to me was looking for some quick money. As I walk the city streets, people come up to me all of the time and I have no memory of them. I called Medicare to find out how much they were making of my insurance. The phone agent from Medicare told me that they made thousands of dollars per treatment. Nobody, can argue that money was not a factor. I just hope nobody goes through what I went through ever again.

  3. In response to Vivian’s above comment – I just wanted to point out that the information on that website is from an organization that was begun by the Church of Scientology – from their website, I quote, “CCHR was co-founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus Dr. Thomas Szasz at a time when patients were being warehoused in institutions and stripped of all constitutional, civil and human rights.”


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