Psych Central

Considering ECT

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Major Depressive Disorder. poorly functional. I go to work. Medication resistant, i have tried them all. I have tried all the medications out there for depression and bipolar. Abilify etc. I have been seeing a therapist for eight years. She is highly respected in her field. I am in the process of changing therapist because I feel stuck and this is the only thing that I have not tried. I’ve seen several Psychiatrist and have been told this may be as good as it gets and I would just have to try and cope with it or find a way to transcend my depression. I fired this guy. I’m exhausted from this daily struggle. occasionally think of suicide. cant hurt my kids that way. I am thinking about ECT. but am afraid. I don’t know how to find the best dr for this and am afraid of cognitive loss, memory loss. I also have learning disabilities and ADD. So I don’t want to aggravate these conditions. I am also aware that my depression could be causing the learning disa and ADD or at least making them worse. I feel like I’m on a merry go round with this. How safe and effective is ECT?

A. I’m sorry to hear that you have been struggling. It is very encouraging that you are in the process of finding a new therapist. You felt “stuck” with your former therapist. Changing therapists can make a major difference. You are already doing what I would’ve suggested that you do.

It is also good that you fired your psychiatrist. You did not believe that he was helping. You may want to consider seeing another psychiatrist but if you are not interested in medication, then maybe not.

You are in the process of changing therapists and it is very possible that this change will be quite beneficial. You may not need ECT, depending on the outcome of therapy.

ECT is usually the recommended treatment when other treatments have failed. I would suggest giving the new therapy a chance before making a decision about ECT. In the meantime, you should research ECT from every possible angle. Do as much research as you can. The following resources should help you get started:

An Overview of ECT Treatment

ECT Treatment from the Mayo Clinic

Shock and Disbelief from The Atlantic Monthly

The most common side effect associated with ECT is memory loss but that typically only occurs after many treatments. There are numerous myths about ECT and they are commonly based on fear and ignorance. ECT both looks and sounds frightening but many people have claimed that it has saved their lives.

I would encourage you to review its advantages and disadvantages. Do your research and let that include speaking with others who have undergone ECT. Withhold judgment and a final decision about ECT until you have completed your research. Only then will you be in a position to decide whether ECT is right for you.

I wish you the best of luck. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Apr 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Considering ECT. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/04/01/considering-ect/

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