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Electroshock Therapy: Harmed By Electric Shock Treatment

Many claim electroshock therapy or ECT isn't what it's cracked up to be. Here's the story of one person who was harmed by electric shock treatment.

There are many who claim electroshock therapy for depression, or ECT, isn't what it's cracked up to be. Here's the story of one person who was harmed by electric shock treatment. It is not meant to be representative of all people who have undergone electroshock therapy. To be fair, there are also ECT stories where people say electroconvulsive therapy saved their life. You will certainly want to ask your doctor and read up on ECT side effects before making any decisions on having electroshock therapy.

An Electroshock Therapy Experience

Juli Lawrence created the SHOCKED! ECT website because of her experience with ECT. "I consider it a serious issue, often shrouded in misinformation," says Juli.

Shocked! ECT appeared on the Internet in 1995 after Juli underwent electroshock therapy for depression herself the year before and having what she says was a very bad result.

I am a woman who was severely depressed (re-diagnosed as bipolar disorder during the ECT treatments) and had ECT in 1994. The electroshock therapy, according to my mother, lifted me from a depression into a brief silliness (the euphoric high that typically follows ECT), quickly followed by an even worse depression than before. And it left me with severe memory loss, and I believe some cognitive damage."

"I'm interested in the people who say: "But you're so articulate now, how could electroshock therapy have possibly been destructive?" My answer: You do not know me. You do not know what I was like before I had the electric shock treatment, and you do not know what I am like now. Do not pretend that you know what I feel, what I think or who I am. A few words on a website does not give you a picture of me, other than the picture I 'choose' to present in public. Most people who know me, other than those EXTREMELY close to me never even knew I was depressed. I have a public face, and a private face, and the two are very different. I work very hard at maintaining the public face, and I have worked hard to recover from a very low point. I have never said I was brain dead, simply that there was damage."

Misinformed About Electric Shock Treatment

It took Juli a year to emerge from the fog that resulted from the ECT. It took six years to recover to the point where she was able to fully articulate what happened. "I have spent the last years reading the research, including the studies that ECT experts use to promote the treatment," says Juli. "Day by day, I grow more convinced that ECT is not an effective treatment, and that it does little more than provide a brief respite from depression, followed by despair and hopelessness ... and potential damage to the brain."

As an ECT survivor and activist, Juli maintains her website is not an attempt to dissuade anyone from having ECT. "If you have chosen to have the treatment, I support your decision and wish you well. If you've come looking for information, I sincerely hope that you will find genuine sources of information presenting all sides of ECT, not just the public face that the industry presents. However, you will find plenty of pro-ECT information here, because I think it's important to look at this from every angle."

Regarding stories that ECT is a miracle cure, Juli claims those are trotted out continually when proponents of the treatment try to deflect any negative information. Yet, when former patients come to the forefront to discuss their bad experiences, she says the proponents say their concerns aren't valid, that anecdotal information isn't worthy of recognition. "Well, folks, you can't have it both ways. I receive a lot of email every day from persons considering electric shock treatment, loved ones, and persons who have had ECT and don't understand what happened. They were given promises and those promises were broken."

Juli adds "I believe that if you're going to listen to anecdotal information, you must listen to both sides, not just the 'ECT saved my life' viewpoint. On the other hand, I do believe it's important to hear the happy endings as well. They are important. All of the voices of ECT are important, and should be heard...including mine."

Ed. note: Juli Lawrence had 12 ECT treatments in 1994 and says it caused long-term cognitive damage. At 49, she says she now has trouble learning new things, and she still has problems with her memory. You can read about ECT problems here.

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APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2012, January 8). Electroshock Therapy: Harmed By Electric Shock Treatment, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/ect/electroshock-therapy-harmed-by-electric-shock-treatment

Last Updated: May 18, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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