Electro Convulsive Therapy *Perspective after 20 Treatments*

If you are feeling suicidal please reach out to a medical professional or go to the nearest hospital. If you think you will hurt yourself or others go to the hospital right away. Hospitals are prepared to help during this time as always.

Melinda

This is a repost from 2015 I thought might help someone today. If you’ve reached the bottom and not sure where to turn, please talk to your doctor about all of your options. ECT has allowed me to celebrate my 56th birthday this year. 

I’ve had 20+ ECT treatments. The treatments are necessary when I hit bottom becoming delusional and suicidal. I hope to shine a light on ECT and dispel the myths. Please keep an open mind,the procedure may save your life. In my experience a Psychiatric facility associated with a respected hospital is far superior to chain facility’s. This post is based on top facility in area. I will share the experience with the worst in another post.

I’ve had treatment in-house and outpatient. For me a crisis with suicidal thoughts are best handled in-house with 24 hour care.  I’ll share step by step how ECT is handled at UTSW in Dallas.

You arrive and change to a gown, the RN calls you to patient area to make sure your meds have not changed. UTSW has strict processes to prevent mistakes. You will be asked you name many times. The RN prepares an IV in your arm which is used for a short acting  anesthesia and muscle relaxer.

When it’s your turn, you walk into a small operating room. There you will see your doctor, several RN’s and anesthesiologist You meet everyone, again double checking you ID bracelet. They ask if you have questions. Usually they are answered by doctor prior to treatment. The anesthesiologist will ask a couple of questions about allergy’s.

You lay down in hospital bed, your heart is monitored throughout. The doctor is logging type of ECT. Usually the ECT machine is right by your head. The RN will take your socks off so your feet can be seen. The movement of the foot tells the doctors you had seizure.

A tech is next to you with an oxygen mask, being claustrophobic I ask if he’ll wait till last-minute to put it on. The muscle relaxer is inserted in IV to allow time to work. The doctor will place ECT “head-gear” on. You will also be given a mouth guard. A RN or tech will take doctors instructions on where to place the electrodes.

You will have your arm band checked several times. I love the quality process UTSW University has in place. The head RN will ask if everyone is ready to time out. They will run through who the patient is, what type of ECT having and is everyone ready.

The Anesthesiologist injects, you falls right to sleep. The procedure only takes minutes. When you wake up you have a RN assigned to your recovery They usually juggle a couple of people. You may get some juice for your dry throat. Once all the effects have worn off and IV removed, you can usually get dresses and walk around so RN can see you’re ok. You’ll receive follow-up instructions. Sign the release paperwork and the RN talks to who will drive you home. No driving yourself after ECT.

Typical side effects, jaw hurts from the seizure, may have headache and lethargic from meds in IV. It takes significantly longer to get you ready than perform the treatment.

A couple of notes: there are several positions doctors can use for ECT treatment. I think most common are Unilateral and Bilateral. I’ve had both and prefer Unilateral. You may have to do more treatments to feel improvement however you don’t lose as much short-term memory.

Bilateral treatment has its benefits, it works faster. You may lose some short-term memory. When I say short-term memory, memories right before treatment and right after.

In the DFW area UTSW/Zale is where you want to go if having ECT or staying in-house.

If you have questions please leave in comments.

XO  M

9 comments

    1. I know there are many people who bad results and lost memory. I’ve had mine since the 1990s and have had minimal effects. There’s always some short term memory loss but I’ve been lucky to not have any long term effects. I wish you the best. 🙂

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    2. I went to your site and had trouble leaving a comment about your post, WordPress was not letting me log in for some reason. I will follow you once I have a chance to log to your site. I am a child of Christ and it hurts to hear that you feel shame for being mentally ill. It’s a disease we can’t control by ourselves, as you have found out. It takes intervention, good and bad, and medications to keep us going. I hope you will spend some time reading thru my “About Me” page and look thru my archives. I have written a great deal about my mental illness in the past and not ashamed today. Maybe thru writing, you will find peace. I’m here if you have questions, or need to chat. 🙂

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    1. Some treatments were done inpatient because I was so sick. While many were done, outpatient. The first day, you can’t drive yourself since they put you under for about 10 minutes, the first day is usually a headache spent in bed. After that, it’s up to how you feel. I was having mine every other day so I didn’t work at the time. Being a mom, I would expect help for the first day without a doubt. After that, it depends on how young the kids are. You’re pretty alert the next day. Let me now if that helps.

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        1. It sounds like this is your first time for ECT? I know it can be frightening, but technology and knowledge has come so far that the procedure is nothing like you may be imagining. I’d be happy to answer any other questions you have. I know how much ECT has helped and changed my life. 🙂

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