Electroconvulsive Therapy On The Brain

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.


Remember to sign up for The Bipolar Battle Community. Take care of yourself!


*This is based solely on my own personal experience with ECTs.

4 comments on “Electroconvulsive Therapy On The Brain

  1. ECT treatment was done on me months ago now. My memory has not come back. Everyone else has hope that it will except me. In the paperwork that I received, it read “any memory loss should return to normal 3-6 weeks after treatment has ended.”

    Because of ECT and its effects, I have found myself embarrassed, unable to find simple words I want to use, quite humiliated on numerous occasions, and I’m not going to hide the truth here, occasionally some sucidal idolization. It hasn’t been pretty for me and I want my story to be told. I want others to be able to make a better informed decision than I did. Best of luck to you whatever road you choose.

    1. Andrea, thank-you for leaving your thoughts and ideas. My heart goes out to you because I’ve felt similar emotions. A large part of my life has been erased because of my treatments. Although I wish with all of my heart I could get part of my memory back, I’m alive today for my family because of those treatments. I wrote this article as a way for someone to shift through the emotions to decide if ECT is a viable option. How many treatments did you have? I wish you the best of luck to you as well!

  2. John, Thank you doesn’t seem like enough too say. My boyfriend gave me your blog, that I believe he has used your for comfort. I am currently a year into ECT treatment and couldn’t agree with your words more when you said that it saved your life. It has taken my memory but has given me my life back. It has given me a smile back. It has given me back everything that bipolar stole from me. Thank you for creating this page. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    1. Elizabeth, I’m SO grateful that you have received something from my page! I’m happy to hear that your boyfriend has gotten something from it as well. You sound like you are feeling the same way that I am! I’d love to hear your experience in regards to electroconvulsive therapy and bipolar some time! Please keep in touch. Join the e-mail list so I can keep in touch with you and you don’t have to worry about it! Don’t be a stranger!! 🙂

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