The Miracle of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
For two years I refused to even consider electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for my severely depressed daughter. After all, I saw those 1950s movies—I saw those patients emerge zombie-like with no memory. But then my daughter’s life became so bleak we had no choice but to try electroconvulsive therapy, and I’ve kicked myself for letting her suffer so long.
Sometimes Electroconvulsive Therapy Is the Best Option
My daughter has been seriously depressed since she was eight. She is 25 now. Over the years, we have tried innumerable medications and combinations. Sometimes they would work for a little while. Sometimes they simply wouldn’t work at all. Too often, they just turned her into a zombie. Regularly, she was hospitalized for allergic or dystonic reactions.1
As class after class of medication proved harmful to my child, her depression became more and more overwhelming. She couldn’t stay in school, couldn’t work, ate too much, and neglected her hygiene.
Why Choose Electroconvulsive Therapy?
During this time, doctors suggested ECT. This is a therapy where an electrical current is run through the brain to create a seizure. I couldn’t believe they would so cavalierly throw out such a drastic treatment.
But then my daughter asked me if I would mind if she just ended it all as she could no longer bear the pain.
I went straight to the Internet, did a ton of research, and called for an appointment the next day.
About the Electroconvulsive Therapy Process
Our ECT team was fabulous. They walked us through each step, answered all our questions and had us watch a video of a person going through the electroshock process, including the actual administration of the shock.
They explained that my daughter would be put under short-acting anesthesia and administered muscle relaxants so only her brain (and not her body) would experience the convulsion.
It took the mystery away.
But, the first treatment was still terrifying. After signing papers and taking her vitals, we waited for our turn. They let me walk my daughter into the treatment room and help her onto the table. I held her foot while they put her under general anesthesia and administered muscle relaxants. Yet, I’ll admit, a sob escaped my throat as I walked out of the room.
My child was in the treatment room for five minutes then was transferred to recovery where she stayed for about a half-hour. I was called back after 10 minutes and was beside her when she began to awaken from the anesthesia.
ECT Treatments Take About an Hour Total
I’ll admit my daughter’s first experience was tough. (I’ll talk about that in the next blog post.) But, the staff got right on her discomfort and promised it would be better the next time. (It was.)
Thirty minutes after treatment, my daughter was taken to the car by wheelchair (although we watched many patients walk out on their own) and we drove home. She went to bed and slept a couple hours then got up.
Electroconvulsive Therapy Was a Miracle for My Daughter
The effects were instant and dramatic. My daughter walked downstairs from her bedroom with a bounce in her step and a giggle in her voice. She glowed.
“You look positively chipper!” I said, shocked.
“I am!” my daughter laughed. “I don’t remember ever feeling so good!”
A year later, she has graduated from ECT. She’s finished her college classes, gotten a job, lost weight, and begun to dress beautifully and socialize whenever she can. In short, my daughter has her life back thanks to ECT.
1Medication-Induced Dystonic Reactions. (2016, June 29). Retrieved September 04, 2017.
Traugh, S. (2017, September 3). The Miracle of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2017/09/the-miracle-of-electroconvulsive-therapy-ect
Author: Susan Traugh
1. There is absolutely no good scientiffic evidence that it works.
2. The little research that hs been done on it's damaging effects is totally ignored by psychiatry.
3. When I pointed out to the NIMH (National institute of mental health) the facts surrounding ECT, and the few scientiffic reports on it's damages they closed down their entire ECT conference as I had pointed out to them how they where lying to the public, and realized that they where not going to get away with it.
4. I've got recordings of several so called ECT specialists where they have widely different opinions on how it supposely works, but absolutely no clue how it works or not any knowledge of it's damaging effects, simply because they have denied the claims from their aptients, and never ever followed up on teh damages their patients have reported. One so called Specialist accnowledged that he knew nothing at all about what kind of damage ECT could give.
3. Countless patients have told me their stories, and countless more have posted their stories to the public, and absolutely all describe the same damaging symptoms. Symptoms that simply destroy a persons recognition of "Self", because who are we without our human emotions, personality and memories? ECT destroys all of this.
4. Since when did ever a mentally ill person ahve the ability to give informed concent ? Their illness is simply the factor that sets their ability to give infomred concent out. And psychiatrists are absolutely not capable of giving informed concent for their patients, as they are the ones giving the treatment.
5. Facts of damages: All electricution damage has a so called wild card effect. a random damage that can not be foretold. This can be anything from a minor nerve damage to death and everything in between. psychiatrists ignor this completely, and if they do damage a patient, they blow it off as an effect from the aptients diagnose.
6. Research on cognitive damage from ECT has shown that absoløutely all patients suffer cognitive damage, either it is as simpla as a delayed reaction time to loosing cognitive abilities, such as math skills, speach, ability to read, concentrate etc. psychiatrists completely ignore this.
I could go on for hours whipping up facts regarding ECT. The only thing positive I can say about it, is that you as patient might have a positive experience due to the placebo effect, or stockholm syndrome effect. Repeated ECT treatments makes your brain eventually give up, and you end up in a slap happy state similar to stockholm syndrom where captives end up symathiszing with their captures after repeatedly being tortured.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8010381) that all conclude that ECT does not cause brain damage. And another four studies that show it actually reverses some of the detrimental effects of depression (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25842202
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24967107). Like you, I could go on and on whipping up facts regarding ECT, but I don't think that's the point here.
You had a bad experience. It affected you greatly. And, I'm sorry for that. It is awful when we go looking for help, get our hopes up, and are devastated again with negative results. Of course we get angry.
But, your conclusion that my child's positive experience is a placebo effect or the Stockholm syndrome assumes that 1) I am too irresponsible to research the treatments that I am about to inflict upon my child; and 2) that your experiences are to be honored while my daughter's are to be dismissed as crazy. You are incorrect on both counts.
Both my daughters are severely mentally ill. My oldest tried a well-known, well-respected anti-depressant for her intractable depression. At first, it worked very well. But then my child had both an allergic and dystonic reaction to the drug. Her air-pipes closed down, she began to have seizures, she developed major facial spasms, slurred speech, and other alarming side effects. We ran to the ER with life-threatening symptoms. Clearly, this was a horrible drug for my oldest child and it nearly killed her. After the event, she was home for weeks recovering. And yet, I won't condemn this drug as "all evil" even though it was life-threatening to my child.
Why? Because it has proven to be a godsend for my other daughter. She took the same drug and it nearly completely stopped her depression, controlled her anger, and allowed her to live her life. It did everything it said it would and more.
My point is that we are all different people, with different chemical make-ups and different life experiences. I have no doubt that your experience was traumatic. Clearly, you have felt a need to do years of research because of your bad experience. No one invests that kind of time without a reason. That said, my experience was also life-altering in the best way and it deserves to be affirmed just as much as your negative experience does. To dismiss my daughter's "miracle" as "sympathizing with their captures after repeatedly being tortured" is demeaning and disrespectful. I am not an irresponsible parent, nor am I a fool.
I understand that those of you who had negative experiences with ECT are vocal and passionate. I honor your right to voice your opposition and sound the alarm if that's what you feel you must do. I simply ask that you understand that my experiences are as valid as yours. My daughter's ability to get up in the morning, have friends and work is not some illusion conjured up by an uninformed, ignorant parent.
I will continue to honor your voice and experience. I simply ask that you do the same for me.
Once again, if the person feels better, it is thank to the extra-attention that she got for convincing her to risk ECT. That extra-attention goes in line with Open Dialogue Principles.
Why does the person get extra-attention for risking ECT?
Because each series of 10 to 12 ECTs brings some 30,000 Euros to the hospital and psychiatrist...
I'm not quite sure what happened to some of your comments, however, they have been restored. Please accept my apologies.
- Natasha Tracy
- Blog Manager
I'm sure you should have no problem sharing this with us as you also must understand that that reading that something that had caused so much pain and brain damage now suddenly results being a miracle for someone else. It makes sense though... If the brain is suffering you simply destroy it so it stops suffering. Thanks in advance for your honesty.
I can assure you that the protocols in place at your daughters facility are pretty much non-existent in 90% of other facilities.
Consent forms rarely state that the risks include damage, permanent memory loss (decades for some), loss of IQ points (30 is common), changes in personality, a worsening of ones mental health...Dusan Kohlar's latest study shows over 30% of victims suffer permanent memory and cognitive damage and are unable to return to their careers. This is the kind of information consumers need. He added testing and consent are uniformly inadequate in most ECT facilities.
There is nothing regulating how ECT is administered. It "works" by causing brain damage.
I do want to point out that there is zero evidence that bipolar episodes, mood swings, or mania, or depression cause brain damage. They may cause difficulties with decision making, concentration, or other intellectual functions, but they do not damage the brain.
And there are some rules regarding ECT, but ECT is like a box of chocolates; the patient doesn't really know what he's going to get. Some doctors push high dose BILATERALS, cranking up the power when they don't seem to be getting a response. Too many things can go wrong when someone is electrocuting the most delicate and complex organ in the brain. The thousands of ECT survivors thought they were making a reasonable decision, but many, drugged, sick, desperate, had no advocates and were not truly informed of the risks. Bentall and Read did a massive literature review in 2010 that covered all previous studies. They concluded the use of ECT could not be scientifically justified due to its risk of permanent cognitive impairment and memory loss.
Contrary to what pro ECT proponents statements to the contrary, ECT has never been proven safe or effective.