ECTs also known as electroconvulsive therapy, is used to mainly treat depression. Some individuals who have mania or a mixed state can also be prescribed ECT treatment. Elderly patients and those who are not responding to regular treatment are strong candidates as well. A doctor who specializes in ECTs does an intensive interview with the client to determine the correct course of action.
Many people have asked my advice throughout the years concerning electroconvulsive therapy. I will tell you what I have told them. The medical professionals on my case explained that my short-term memory would be affected very minimally. I was assured with time that my short-term memory would come back. During my electroconvulsive therapy treatments, I was in the middle of my chemical engineering classes. To this day, almost 20 years later, I do not remember those classes. It is quite unnerving to read a notebook, all in my handwriting, and not being able to recollect even one word.
I made it through my junior year in chemical engineering, but I had to switch to natural sciences with minors in both Math and Chemistry. I’m just grateful I got a degree. It took me longer than normal, but no one can take that away from me.
So, back to the original question about getting electroconvulsive therapy. I believe the ECT treatments saved my life because they literally kept me alive. Although, I feel that I will never get my memories back again. In fact, I know I will not. Personally, I would use it as an absolute last ditch effort because of the intensive memory issue side effects.
Deciding whether to have ECT treatments is kind of like deciding whether to enter a psychiatric hospital. Like the majority of people, I for one never like to go. I know though that sometimes I need to make that final push to get better, and it is important for me to go. I think electroconvulsive therapy can be looked at in a similar fashion. It is a treatment that is literally the last ditch effort. A doctor who specializes in ECT must sign off that you are an okay candidate.
Once you move forward with electroconvulsive therapy, you should realize what you are getting yourself into. The schedule is generally Monday/Wednesday/Friday early in the morning for a few weeks at a time. After getting a hospital gown on, a doctor puts in an IV. I was knocked out and given a muscle relaxant. I was given a bilateral ECT treatment as I had electrodes one on each temple, on either side of my face. While I was knocked out, electricity passed through my brain and initiated a seizure. The doctor monitored this on his machines. The only way you could visually tell I was having a seizure was my little toe twitched.
I would like to add that electroconvulsive therapy is not barbaric like it used to be portrayed as in pop culture movies. There are fewer side effects and implementing the muscle relaxant stopped almost all movement during the procedure.
Next time you decide whether to use ECTs as a viable treatment option, remember my words. Everyone’s situations are different. It may just be the final effort that you are looking for and need to literally stay alive.
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*This is based solely on my own personal experience with ECTs.