50 ECT Treatments: Clinical Depression Brought Me to My Knees

February 22, 2010 Amanda_HP

Carol Kivler, underwent 50 ECT treatments, 4 hospitalizations for severe, recurrent, treatment-resistant clinical depression. Her depression story in this video.

I first noticed depression symptoms in the spring of 1990. At the time, I was a part-time college professor, with three healthy children, a loving husband, a beautiful home, and money in the bank when clinical depression (aka major depression) grabbed me and brought me to my knees. When I was finally diagnosed with clinical depression, I asked how can I be depressed? We knew about situational depression, but very little about clinical depression.

Carol Kivler, underwent 50 ECT treatments, 4 hospitalizations for severe, recurrent, treatment-resistant clinical depression. Her depression story in this video. Carol Kivler wrote this post for HealthyPlace.

Ms. Kivler is a corporate trainer, executive coach, keynote speaker, and founder of Kivler Communications in 1994.

Hospitalization for Suicidal, Psychotic Depression

For the first 25 days, I was given a cocktail of depression medications without relief. At that point, ECT was recommended. Like most individuals ECT (electroconvulsive therapy aka shock therapy) brought up a visualization that I wasn’t willing to think about. My first response was, “No way!” However, after another week, I was convinced to at least give ECT a try. ECT was and is my silver bullet to recovery.The psychiatrist prescribed an antidepressant; however, my depression already had the best of me and within a couple of weeks I was suicidal and in a psychotic depression. My first hospitalization lasted 38 days.

Severe, Recurrent, Treatment-Resistant Depression Requires ECT

Today some 19 years later, the “beast” has brought me to my knees four times. Each requiring hospitalizations and more ECT treatments (over 50 combined). In spite of my mental health history with clinical depression, I am a high-functioning individual when in recovery. Through my work in my division, Courageous Recovery, I am reaching out to healthcare
professionals, loved ones, and consumers putting the face of hope on both clinical depression and ECT.

It has been 10 years since my last major bout with clinical depression. I firmly believe that I have remained in recovery because I am committed to my wellness plan—medication, counseling, as well as making some major life style changes including: exercise (4 to 5 times per week).

Ed Note: Carol Kivler, our guest on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show on February 24, 2010. After Feb. 24, you can watch our interview with Carol Kivler at Video on Electroconvulsive Therapy for Depression (ECT).

Visit Carol's website, Courageous Recovery, and get her book, Will I Ever Be the Same Again? Transforming the Face of ECT (Shock Therapy).

APA Reference
Amanda_HP (2010, February 22). 50 ECT Treatments: Clinical Depression Brought Me to My Knees, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 19 from

Author: Amanda_HP

Steve Doss
May, 27 2010 at 5:26 pm

I am 38 year old malewho suffers from severe suicidal and clinical depression. I am going to go back in the hospital again and get more E.C.T if I can. None of the antidepressants seem to relieve the hellish anguish of this despair.

Linda Warden-Michl
March, 5 2010 at 6:04 am

During treatment for anorexia and PTSD in 2004, I was diagnoised with Bipolar 2. Something, when looking back, probably was there most of my life. But who goes to get treatment when feeling great, when hypomanic? Anyway, my Bipolar syptoms have a seasonal pattern. Summers I'm full of life, energy, and fearless but during the winter, I'm deep in the dark tunnel of depression. In 2002, in the midst of a depression, ECT was presented as a viable option. Meds did not work and I was extremely suicidal. Scared but trusting my doctor, I underwent 2 week series of unilateral ECT. It saved my life.
I then did monthly maintainence ECT for a year. Once past the initial ECT series, ECT did not interfere with my functioning. An hour later, I would jump into my car and continue my day. I was told that my response and quick recovery was atypical but I was not complaining. Throughout this time, I was working on obtaining my Masters degree.
In winter 2004, severe depression returned and again I did not respond to medications. I underwent ECT. I only did a one week series of 3 and then maintainence ECT one a month for six months. I had a hospitalization for hypomania that following summer, but then went hospital free until March of 2009 for depression and again in May. No more ECT though.
During the past four years, however, I finished my Masters and worked as a clinical therapist. I took this past holiday season off to finally enjoy the time with my family. I just started part-time work in my field and my goal is to obtain further licensing to do private practice. This past winter had it's moments, but overall was not too bad. I take a small amount of antidepressant medication to help manage my depression.
I am 55 years old, married 26 years, and mother of 4 children, 2 of whom are still at home (12 and 17 yo). I'm a die-hard motoycycle rider of 30 years and I'm looking forward to spring. I still become hypomanic in the summers, but not out of control. Knowing that my summers provide great adventure helps me get through the winters.
Would I do ECT again? Not unless it was again a life or death situation again. Although I was unaware initially, I think it had some effect on past memories; although nothing to interfere with my functioning. Now that I'm getting older, I'm concerned that it could further effect my memory. That said, I have no regrets about ECT and would recommend it as an effective treatment option when nothing else works. As most of us know, depression can be lethal.

helen Campbell
February, 24 2010 at 12:08 pm

I would like to leave my best wishes to those who suffer from clinical depression. I know very well what this is like and how long it can last and how crippling it is I am 70 years old now and depression seems to be different now and lasts a shorter time. I certainly would consider ECT if it had been offered during my worst time. Helen

February, 23 2010 at 9:06 am

I was diagnosed with Major clinical depression in 1979. Two weeks after I graduated High School in 1980, I was hospitalized the first time for my illness. Since that time, I have been repeatedly hospitalized for depression and suicide attempts.
I was also hospitalized many times for anorexia that began around 1983 when I attempted to attend college. I know that I had severe depression and anxiety as a child, but in the 1970's, no one "thought" that a child or youth could have Clinical depression. Since 1980, I have attempted suicide more than 20 times unsuccessfully, but came closest in 1997.
I have had 43 EC Treatments spanning 1987 through 1994. 12 EC Treatments were given inpatient in 1987 in a psychiatric hospital. I did not feel any better after leaving the hospital and was forced to move back with my parents. My psychologist was at his wits ends and found a psychiatrist that was recommended highly in Nashville, TN. My mom and I got up at 4 a.m. to travel to Nashville, TN for my 7 a.m. treatments there. Treatments began in Nashville in 1991 and ceased in 1994 at a total of 31 only because of a head-on collision into a utility pole that broke my right femur and right hand. I continued after the wreck to battle extreme agoraphobia and consuming depression. I was in the depths of despair really until I was SAVED by the LORD Jesus Christ in 1997. ECT eventually did help me overcome 10 years of anorexia (my lowest weight was 87 pounds and I am 5'9" tall). It helped me become responsive to Zoloft and then to psychotherapy.
I had spent 18 years of my life being "subject to" every medication that was available from 1980 to 1995 before ECT helped me at last respond to Zoloft. I honestly felt like a human guinea pig. The medications were horrible with side effects and the hospitalizations were more incapacitating than helpful due to my separation anxiety and issues with my parents as I am an only child.
I give GOD the true glory for my being rescued from the depths of hell to which I was unrelentingly subjected. After 1997 and one last ditch suicide attempt, I emerged from an existence in complete darkness. I made a "bargain" with God after that last suicide attempt, that if HE would save me from depression that I would let HIM run my life and give it to HIM completely. Since the spring of 1997, I have felt happiness and joy for the first times ever in my life.
I am now 47 years old, on disability since 1987, but am freed from the Depression beast that held me fast in its grip for most of my childhood, adolescence and well into my adult years. I have not had a relationship with a guy. That is on the threshold at this time. I have found that my experiences have made me "valuable" to others who have traveled in my moccasins of depression. I have found that I am now an encourager of people. The darkness through which I lived has given me a new appreciation of this life, what we can share and give to others, and of the life to come.
I almost feel at times that God blessed me by keeping me alive through my long journey or the Dark Torturer, that refused for so long to let go of my heart, soul and life as a human being. I am amazed to be alive at 47 years of age. I am even more amazed that the prospect of a loving relationship with someone exists at this time. ECT was what changed the chemicals in my brain that were A.W.O.L. However, it was the loving, healing Grace of God that truly freed me from the HELL called Depression.

Roland B oudreau
February, 23 2010 at 8:38 am

I understand what your depression does to a a person. I had a good job, family and a wife and two major depressions in ten years almost killed me. I am a male - 56 years old and I've been struggling with depression for 20 years and my son is suffering from bipolar disorder and it a constant battle for him too.
I am happy to see that we could recover from that sickness and live a normal life like others took time but I am back on my feet and with the help of professionals and medications, life is smiling at me again.
Thank you. Roland MONCTON n.b.

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