In year 2, I was getting desperate; the various medication combinations, I had been trying, weren't improving my moods. I was sick and tired of being low, sobbing, and having negative thoughts of finding peace. I had done some research on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) on various internet sources and even watched several ECT procedures on YouTube.
At me next appointment, my psychiatrist and I discussed my eligibility for the treatment (as I was med resistant and remained mainly in a severe depressive state), what the potential side effects were, and how it was going to be administered.
He referred me to the head psychiatrist, who performed the ECT treatments. I was scheduled for an initial trial of 8 treatments, on an outpatient basis, with a reassessment after the 4th treatment to check for any impact or side effects.
Here's my experience. I fasted prior to each treatment (like any surgical procedure). Hubby and I would drive to the hospital, as I required a driver after the general anesthetic, and I would gown up. I laid down on the gurney and was hooked up to an IV, blood pressure cuff, and the heart monitor. Through the IV they would eventually administer the muscle relaxer and general anesthetic. At the first session, the Dr. explained, step by step, what was being done and why. He then attached the wires to my head. Once I was all hooked up, the anesthesiologist started the drip and the Dr asked me to start counting backwards from 100.
I may have got to 97 when I realized I was awake and finished! The treatment only takes about 3 minutes from start to finish. I was then wheeled into the psychiatric unit to recover from my anesthetic, was allowed to each lunch, then was released to head home until the next treatment.
I had 4 treatments that were painless and uneventful. I already had cognitive impairments prior to receiving my ECT treatments, due to my Bipolar Disorder, but unfortunately the ECT made it worse. Typically, people that have the treatments may have short term memory gaps surrounding the day of the treatment or around that time frame, which gradually returns over time. Mine however were more extensive and the 4 treatments had not resulted in any positive improvements of my depression. So, unfortunately, any further treatments were cancelled as the risks outweighed the benefits.
In my opinion, the general ECT process was not painful and I had no physical side effects. It just wasn't right for me. I can say though, that if it had made a marked improvement in my depression, I would have gladly put up with a little more cognitive impairment.
Before you make up your mind about Electroconvulsive Therapy, please do research the topic, the procedure itself, the benefits and the risks, and watch a few YouTube videos. Get educated!
Laura Marchildon will blog honest and true posts about her real life experiences.