Health QuestionsCategory: QuestionsRecently had ECT for depression and liked it
Tegorsk asked 3 years ago

NOTE, this really belongs in “The Brain Electric – Bipolar Edition”, so I’m putting a copy there. That’s where I’ll put the photos too.  
I had a resistant depression from December 2005 until the beginning of April, and it still isn’t entirely gone. But it’s mostly gone, and quickly too, thanks to outpatient ECT.  
This was unilateral (right side) ECT performed on April 3, 5, 7, and 10. Originally I was scheduled for 6 applications but was feeling so good we quit after 4. That might have been a mistake, because I had a bit of a relapse Monday evening and yesterday. The doc and I are discussing adding another one or two, but have not come to a decision.
Pros: This works FAST. I was as depressed as could be Monday at 6 a.m. Monday at 10 I was taking an interest in life, and by afternoon could “see undepressed from here.” By the second app I was in good shape. By the fourth the pdoc was calling me hypomanic, though I think she was just seeing the normal me.
Cons: – It’s costly. $1000 a hit. If your insurance doesn’t pay, you’d better be rich.  
– Memory effects: Minor, but they do exist. It does not wipe out the week previous to the treatment like I had thought. I got some friends to give me quirky little things to memorize and they came back to me just as soon as I regained consciousness from the anesthetic. What it does do is makes it hard for you to lay down new memories for a few days unless you work at it. If you are determined, and tell yourself to remember A, B, or C event or item, you will remember it. Some things you don’t refer to often may fade out; for instance, I had trouble remembering the name of the free photo service where I store my avatar; but could easily pick it from a list.
– You aren’t allowed to drive for a while afterward. This can be a con or a pro if you consider it a vacation from having to be responsible. You feel pretty good, but don’t have to do much; that’s a nice respite.
– People think it’s a sign of being really crazy. I’m just bulling through on this, going ahead and telling them, and if they want to be all scaredy then they may. But in general people are just interested and happy to hear it’s not like in the movies.
– The anesthesia can make you nauseated afterwards. They can give you Phenergan beforehand and prevent this 100%.  
The primary thing to keep in mind: The real world is not the movies and this decade is not the 1950s. I found the side effects entirely acceptable and the results fast and powerful. I probably should have gone ahead with all six and will probably go back for them to effectively knock out the depression.  
It’s a great technology and my experience was all positive.