Ect Changed My Life Forever...

I underwent ECT this summer.  I cannot share much of the details though as my memory has pretty much been wiped clean.  I really am missing several months (at least) of my life.  I do believe that the ECT helped at first.  I was extrememly depressed, suicidal, and hopeless.  I trusted the treating psychiatrist that this would be a good option for me.  However, although I am taking management medications and undergoing weekly therapy, I still feel terrible.  I think the worst of it is that I, too, as another member mentioned, am not nearly the same person I used to be.  The memory loss is horrible - it is not just short term memory affects either.  Huge chunks of time are just gone.  I can barely remember things like my own anniversary date or when my children were born! 

I am certain that ECT has helped many others.  I guess I am also certain that it helped me to some degree as well, but I am not certain that I will ever be the same and that is depressing and scary.  I even had to resign from my job due to how badly my mind has been affected.  I am hoping that others may understand some of this and let me know how they have handled getting through the discouragement and depression.  Thanks for taking the time to read my story.


Longing4Mercy Longing4Mercy
31-35, F
28 Responses Nov 24, 2009

I am sorry to hear you had a bad experience.

My story is very similar to yours . I underwent 3 series of ECT in different hospitals. I 1st ECT did not help me at all. It made me worse for than I had depression and anxiety. I felt like I didn't know who I was and felt very misunderstood. I lost huge chunks of memory including a family vacation to disney and I lost my job. I was a very good nurse but ECT took away a lot of my nursing skills. All erased from memory. Years later I had ECT's done again with a lot more success and lost very little memory. Thank you so much for sharing your story

Having just found this site, I see that it is now a few years on from your treatment and I really do hope that you are managing to find the support you need for day to day living. Never give up. I send you a Christian hug and pray for your full recovery.

the whole memory thing just comes with ECT. i feel like i have lost like 10 years. i am 36 and feel like i am 26 because i have lost that much time. it did help me get over the complete darkness i was in. it just came at a price. i no longer remember birthdays, anniversaries, even daily stuff is hard. have you heard of Transcranial Magnet Stimulation (TMS) it is another form of therapy that is worth a look. a doctor in my area just started doing it. i think it helped me when i was on my way back down. if you have any questions about it i will surely answer them. i hope it gets better for you.

Oh wow bless your heart. I know that's got to be hard. I'm sorry! Yes I have heard of it but I haven't found anyone who does it where I live. How long did you do it?

you actually go 5 days a week for 6 weeks. but there is no anisthsia and you can drive yourself. you might get a headache the first time but that was about it. it took a full 4 weeks for me to see a difference. but it helped all in all. send me a message if you want to talk about it. hey if they do TMS in MS, they have to have it other places. lol

I checked into this yesterday and found out that my insurance does not cover this at all because it is still considered by them to be "experimental". :( I have now looked into a very invasive procedure being done by the University of Michigan where they do brain surgery to implant electrodes in a part of your brain that produces deep brain stimulation for at least one year. I am so distraught and feeling pretty hopeless again about my current and continued mental health treatment. I'm not sure if this is the best method to choose or not. All I can think about is how I am for my husband and my children. Will this provide me with what I need to be the best mom and wife I can be? I don't know. I suppose it can't be any worse than ECT was/is in my life at this point. Wow...I guess I didn't realize just how stressed I was about all of this until right now. Thanks to everyone for all of your posts about your experiences with ECT. If anyone needs to talk more about ECT or otherwise, feel free to contact me here with your e-mail address. I really do appreciate all of the support I have gotten here!

What is this invasive surgery called?? Please tell me. I will do anything. I have done everything that I know of and that drs will do for me. I hope you get better!!

1 More Response

I have had tons of ECT's and they have not once helped me. And the last 2 years or so of my life are blacked out. I've heard some people say they help them but they didn't help me. And that was the last thing I can think of to help. Nothing has helped. Do you know of any more treatment plans?

i have a series of ect's 13 years ago. To this day I have short term memory loss. I recently started back to school after 26 years. I am finding it close to impossible to complete my assignments and I am far behind. I feel that I have a mental block and I can't understand or even paraphrase. IS this because of my ect's

ECT is a disgrace considering that we have fast acting treatments like Ketamine, which can alleviate severe depression within the space of a couple of hours.

I've had 12 ketamine infusions and those are only temporarily

God Bless you, you can read my new story I just put on line, abuse, molestations, broken body parts, etc. Struggling financially for everything. Always left out. Looks are so deceiving, people see me, think I have money, not, and always smiling. I love people, but am very lonely, went from home to home as a youngster and teenager. Raised 2 children by myself, 1 makes over 6 figures and told me, I have my own life to worry about not yours, this is a person, I would die for. Wake up at 4 am go to work, pick up grandchild, babysit until 10 & if her horn honked more that once, which meant I didn't run quick enough, I was scolded. What is that? That really hasn't put me where I am today as it's yrs and yrs of bad luck, hard work, sacrificing. I'm tired, broke, hopelessness is a given. I don't go to bed until 6 am, no sleep, nerve pills, I need peace of mind. I know I would have some of the hangups from youth, which I know of them and work on all of them, but monies of buying food, fixing roof, and a little little savings, would release this pressure. Dr feels this is the only way. Does it hurt? How often did u get it? How long in hospital? Thank you and God Bless you, my friend.

I'm so sorry!! Seems like you and I are I. A similar situation. Everyone who has ECT's has a different opinion on them. They are very serious. You are sleep while they do them but I always woke up with the worst head ache and my jaws hurt from clinching them while being shocked/seized. One time I peed my pants in the middle (embarrassing) and one time my seizure wouldn't stop and I continued to have seizures. I've lost alot of my memory. I hope an pray that it will help you!! It didn't help me but I have heard of people that benefited from it. Ketamine infusions are wonderful but they are only temporary. I'd love to hear more of your story!! You can inbox me. God bless you and I will be praying for you!! When are you getting them?

I had 8 treatments of ect at MGH in Boston the month of November.But it worked as it took me from a low state to a high state.But as I am typing my memory is wiped out. I am supposed to go for a treatment a week.I am afraid it will wipe me clean . I am lost as to what to do? I have Bipolar 1 and take seroquel at night to sleep.

Skiski68, yes unfortunately memory loss is one major side effect. Some people's come back and some don't. Mine hasn't. If they have helped you in the long run so far, I would say at least try them again! I have bipolar 2. Do you take anything for depression? You could look into ketamine infusion?

I appreciate everyone's stories. I will start treatment next week. I have been depressed for many years. I now have a very poor memory. I guess it is related to depression. I have been tested twice for dementia and that is not the case. I lost my job as a nurse because of depression and anxiety. I feel pretty worthless even though I volunteer. I don't get dressed unless I have to go somewhere. They say I have fibromyalgia. I just know I am sick of this whole thing and am hanging on by the skin of my teeth. I am so done with whatever is going on with me, I have to try something!

and to that i say read other stories in this group and others like it who had this treatment and ended up with memory loss, congnitive issues and by the way were still depressed and messed up not to mention traumatized by the experience !

Not to worry I was really bad at the time I went in and had mine done and it was some time ago, but I will say something, I was where you are right now...PLEASE DO NOT WORRY, it will all fall in it's place, I too felt worse and I believe it was just the fear I had but who knows it felt very real as you are now feeling..I'm not sure if others don't feel worse before you start feeling better but the same thing happened to me..I was very sacred that I would never get better, it seemed all the things that had happened to me were right there making me feel so depressed and especially feeling so suicidal but w/o the PLEASE give it time and don't get too stressed out and I really mean that in a nice way, not to worry it will all fall in its place.. really will and you will feel better soon. I'm not sure right now how long it took and yes it hard being patient with this and it was so hard for me to even recognize people that I knew and they would look at me like "what is wrong with you" "what do you mean you can't remember me" and no one knew I had these treatments. So yes, it will be hard and right now I wish I had some because I really feel so tired of not too worry

Everyone's experience is different. I had nightmares for over 30 years about ECT (and the ones given to me were the "modern" kind, with muscle relaxants, and so forth). In fact, ECT traumatized me very badly. But, I was not suicidally depressed or psychotic, or bipolar. My diagnosis was "adolescent adjustment disorder." Still I would not recommend ECT for anyone. Have you read Wendy Funk's book, What difference Does it Make? The Journey of a Soul Survivor? She was diagnosed with mental disorders when she went to a doctor for a sore throat. Things escalated and she wound up with ECT and many other horrific things done to her. <br />
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I think many people who had ECT are stigmatized and do not want to talk about it publicly. That was my situation, since I was one of the lucky ones and was able to have a career and a family in spite of almost 4 years of ECT as a teenager. <br />
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Afterwards, I moved to another state, got a job, and I talked about it to my friends, but in the "outside world" of work and acquaintances, I "passed" as someone who was never a mental patient. So, I guess in some way I was out living my life -- but I was always afraid, massively traumatized, and afraid to talk about it. One of the criteria the doctors use to see if you are getting well is whether or not you admit that you are mentally ill. I was a teenager and stubborn, and it took me a long time to figure out that was what I needed to do. If you don't accept their diagnosis, that is considered a sign of the correctness of the diagnosis (a catch-22 if there ever was one). <br />
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One study found that " former mental patient" was a more stigmatizing label than "ex-convict." The stigma is real and still present, although some groups are trying to lessen or get rid of the stigma.

I started having ect treatments last summer. I just remember being told that although there could be some permanent memory loss, most of the loss would diminish once my treatments started getting further apart. For me, I had the initial series of treatments which were three a week for awhile, then I received treatments once a week for awhile and now am getting them every couple of weeks. I am on a lot of meds and still am struggling with depression. I take both mood stabilizing meds and a lot of meds for sleep and low doses of two antidepressants. I am bipolar so I cannot go to high on the antidepressants. I am trying to deal with and accept some of the memory loss while holding out hope that once my treatments get further apart, I will have less of it. I can say that I am somewhat better than I was prior to treatment. I have been told by my psychiatrist and therapist as well as others that I am better than I was. I don't really remember how I was and have to say that I am upset by the memory loss but at the same time am holding out hope that it will get better. My heart goes out to anyone who has had ect and is experiencing debilitating effects from it. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories. I will definitely be back here.

to everyone viewing, my doctor wants to send to have the procedure done, I suffer from PTSD manic depression, sucidial tendencys (spelling) from my childhood Sexual abuse, from my brothers and their friends. this started at the age of 4 and continued till young mother knew and blew it off as acceptable..Not by a long shot, I have been fighting the nightmares and memorys for years. I used to be able to keep them in the back of my mind and put on a facade of a normal person.<br />
I went from 105lbs to 200lbs from all the medication over the past 12 years, I used to be so beautiful. I guess my question is will the ECT treatments releive me of the past memories of all the abuse..without sacrificing all the wonderful memories of my childrens lives.. looking forward to your comments, so I may make a very Hard decision.....

desperate, I'm sorry for your PTSD manic depression and suicidal tendencies.

Unfortunately there is no guarantee as to which of your past memories will be effected by ect, if any. You could lose some of the past memories of the abuse, but still lose the memories of your children's lives. There's no way to predict which if any would be effected.

Good luck with making your decision, desperate101

Oh, man, you're in a bad place! First of all, although it may sound cliche..... weight has nothing to do with beauty..... it only has to do with your own self esteem. I gained 40 pounds after taking the drug, Wellubutrin. I didn't care.... I was looking for a way to kill myself..... self image didn't much matter to me.

I did not have a good expierience with ECTs. But, I have made it a point to approach persons questioning whether or not to have ECTs with an impartial mind. I have to admit, this may be the first time I've ever had someone hope to lose their memory.
I think a responsible and sound thing to say about ECTs is that they are highly unpredictable. No one knows why they work or do not work. The whole procedure is a mystery.
If you are not concerned about losing your memory, and you have tried everything else, go ahead and try them. But, the loss of memory is a very real concern.
I wish you the best. Let me know how things have turned out.



Ect worked for me. Ask for unilateral (one side) versus bilateral. Less cognitive and memory issues. If not for ect, I would be dead.

After reading so many different experiences of people who had undergone ECT I felt It would be helpful If I shared my own experience with you all. My husband underwent modified ECT more than twenty years ago. At that time he was going through severe depression and even tried to commit suicide. He used to say he did not know how to do his job and that he was incapable of taking care of his wife and kids. Then he was given some sixteen or seventeen ECTs. He did suffer from temporary memory loss. He was very quiet for a few days after each ECT. After 10 or 12 sessions he started saying he wanted to go back to work. After that treatment, he was completely normal for 10 years. He was not even taking anti depressants. He suffered a relapse after his father's death and went into a manic state. He was given 6 or seven ECTs again and since then he is completely okay although he does take anti depression and anti anxiety medicines on a maintenance level. One thing I know for sure is alcohol is a Big No No for people suffering from depression and anxiety. They should stay away from alcohol completely. All I can say is the ECT treatment helped my husband tremendously and I am thankful for it. I guess it is the experts who should determine what is best for each individual.

I am so thankful that ECTs helped / saved your husband. For every person that hasn't had a good expierience with ECTs, it's helpful for those trying to decide whether or not to have ECTs have both "sides of the story."
I'm not asking this to be controversial at all...... I'm asking out of a genuine question, what did you mean when you said, "Iguess it is the experts who should determine what is best for each individual?"
Were the "experts" doctors? i guess that must be what you were referring to. Did you and your husband rely on your doctors to make the best choice for your husbands care?
I'm glad you folks are doing well.


There was nothing else left for me to try. Thank God that ECT helps with my depression, since I am treatment resistant. Without ECT I would not be alive anymore. I do not think that ECT should ever be given involuntarily. But to make it illegal for people who it does help would be an awful thing. I do have memory loss, but I starting to remember more and more as time goes by. It can be very frustrating. But if I had an emotional attactment or connection to someone, I still feel love/friendship for them. Regardless of losing some of the memories involving them. <br />
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I am interested in learning more about TMS.

I am so sorry you had to go through this, thank you for your story, my therapist recommended ECT and encouraged me not to talk to anyone about it.

I'm wavering between being open about my ECT and keeping it all to myself and am curious: why does your therapist encourage you not to talk to anyone about it?

I suspect that she knows if I did the research I wouldn't agree with her decision. It's ok, she doesn't work there anymore.

I've undergone ECT and am still having treatments, although they are much further apart than they were initially. So far I've had success with overcoming my major depression, although I am very emotional over adjusting to some memory loss. I depend on my therapist and psychiatrist to help me through this period of adjustment. Good therapists aren't easy to find, plus you need to be willing to trust a therapist enough to share your deep feelings. That's not easy to do.<br />
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I have a problem with the information I find online that is negative about ECT. I haven't found any comments that refer to factual surveys or studies that have valid information about ECT, how it was used in the past, and how treatment today differs due to what was learned in the past. The claims of brain damage and the like are upsetting, but so far aren't supported with links to valid studies. Maybe I've missed comments that do connect to this type of information.<br />
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Can't say ECT is for everyone. Can say that I wouldn't trust just any practicing ECT doctor with giving me the treatments. There can be upsetting side effects. I have experienced short and long term memory loss. I can't be ob<x>jective about whether the memory loss is a valid or good trade-off for getting rid of my major depression. So far, for me, it has been positive although very upsetting. I'm getting good help dealing with this side effect and hope it will get better as time passes.<br />
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From what I have found on line and in support group meetings, some people do benefit from getting rid of depression, which allows them to do things with their lives that they wouldn't otherwise have been able to do. Perhaps that isn't everyone's experience. I've read that perhaps the people who have been helped by ECT are out living their lives instead of spending time online sharing their bad experiences. Not sure if that's true but it makes sense to me.

Do you think TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) is as damaging as ECT? Are they similar? Has anyone had any experience with TMS? I am nearing the end of my options with treatment resistant major depressive disorder. I have been on nearly every medication for several years, months, etc. with dosage tweaking, different combinations, etc. and NOTHING works. I have made lifestyle changes but the depression doesn't allow me to be consistent with my activities, I no longer want to suffer side effects and feel doped up.

balmier, I haven't had any experience with TMS, but am also nearing the end of my treatment options. I'm even considering and doing some research on medical marijuana. Will let u know if I hear anything on TMS. Have u heard anything on marijuana as treatment?
Haven't tried a mood-stabilizer, how is that different from anti-depressant,

People are so stupid if they think that something that causes a "mild" concussion, and convulsions to the brain does NOT cause brain damage. Read Dr. Peter Breggins blog at I think it is. I volunteer for National Alliance for Mental Illness, I have personally talked to scores of people who have complete amnesia and are permanently disabled, including myself, from this barbaric, sick "treatment" which was banned for a long time. It was originally used as a crude torture device, and guess what? the voltage is 3 times higher today due to overcoming the anesthesia. ECT wiped my memory clean, it is torture not to enjoy past memories, and it also makes new learning nearly impossible, this is found with almost every ECT patient, and the longer the worse, simple as that. It brain damages 100% of users. Read the truthful accounts of people who experienced it, not the biased and "spun" studies that downplay all the cogntiive problems. Think about it all you have is your memory! Finally, the depression just comes back in a month, and more ECT is then needed. ECT induces euphoria, heh, because that's what brain injuries due to people. I am too tired myself from the years past of ECT to find the sources...people should be smart enough to realize electric current and high high volts to the brain is a horrible thing for people to want to do! Many are forced ECT over and over again some 200 times! I spoke to a man who had 160 forced ECT, he could barely talk, was shaking from neurological damage, and described it as pure torture. kitty dukakis who wrote shock is as deluded as the ECT doctors.

There are no studies truly documenting the effectiveness of ECT. Breggin and a few others actually document the damage (some autopsies of animals that were shocked -- pin point hemorrhaging throughout the brain tissue). The only studies that document the effectiveness are based on observation of patients (better word is victims). Of course, they do not include the patients who refuse or those who do not follow the "party line" -- and they certainly do not include the evidence of those who kill themselves because they are afraid of more ect. A good friend of mine killed herself (about 15 years ago) because she was afraid that she would be subjected to more ect.

But is it worth it? Even with the memory loss, which I knew beforehand would be a symptom. Is it worth it in the long run? I'm having my 7th one tomorrow. My depression is terrible even after 6 treatments. I'm crying every day, having suicidal thoughts and feeling hopeless at times.

Hang in took me a few treatments before I felt better. The memory loss is awful....but so is suicidal depression.

I have also had ECT and am suffering from long and short term memory loss. I don't really know what is meant by "short-term" memory loss. All I know is that I am doing horrible in school and that I cannot recall things from yesterday or the day before. I just feel like I can't remember anything. I am worried that I will never be able to work again. What kind of job can you get when you can't remember what you did or said the day before???

I had many, many, and many ECT treatments. The memory loss has been the worse side effect that I also got from doing this treatment. However those months that I am missing, were the times, we I was depressed, suicidal, lost, and hurting...So I am ok that I lost those memories..<br />
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Every now and then I forget names or places that I have known or been to but I think the positive out ways the negative.

I am living proof that ECT's can be done effectively and without any side effects what so ever. They really saved my life.. I found it to be a quick and painless procedure without a single side effect. Do they work for everyone? Of course not.. As for those with successful treatments...many have moved on and no longer study the subject. That is why you will find fewer success stories on here. My heart goes out to those who have had terrible results from the treatments. I however am a true success story and want people to know that they do often work.

Hi Longing4Mercy,<br />
I am sorry for this late post. I only found EP in March of this year and only found this group today. My life line is my therapist! I still go through a lot of negative emotions, but when things start to overwhelm me, all I have to do is to let my therapist know, and she helps to pull me out of the darkness. I feel so comfortable with her now and feel that I can share issues with her, thus enabling her to better help me. She now knows what will help and what will cause harm to me. If your team (therapist, psychiatrist, or any other mental health professional) is not helping you, you can always fire anyone or all of them and look for a better fit. Hope this may help you. : )

why in the hell do we still think this is an excceptable treament in the 21st century <br />
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and get another shink anyone who would percribe this is insane

Insane to you maybe but please do not come on here and knock something that has actually helped me NOT KILL MYSELF. I find your reply offensive because when I needed it I was actually on the verge of killing myself and maybe to you that's not important but to my husband and my kids it was important that their mother would die and yes there are some disadvantages to this but nothing as bad as wanting to end a life so please don't make this nasty remark to someone that is right now confused and wondering if it was worth it or not