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Subjected to ECT - is my brain damaged?
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Subjected to ECT - is my brain damaged?

In 2005, I had a short bout of ocd and depression and was sent to hospital. However, I have no memory of the period. Recently, I learnt that I was subjected to 6 sessions of bilateral ECT when I was warded.

Critics of such treatments highlight the complications of electric-shock therapy, alerting the dangers of cognitive and memory impairement characteristic of a brain damage.

In 2009, I was assaulted by a robber (hit several times in the head by a weapon) and suffered head injuries. I fear that compounded with the negative effects of ECT as well as my head injuries in 2009, my brain could be permanently affected.

I was reading some old blog entries of mine and realised the memory issues seem to have persisted for years as I was unable to remember events and people which I mentioned in the blog now. I learnt that I had difficulty performing tasks I used to be able to do so effortlessly, e.g. language, art, creative pursuits, etc. I have problems in concentration and attention as well. When I returned to school shortly after the hospitalisation, I was unable to learn and retain information as easily and performed badly in my papers and in dance.

Physically, I suffered from spontaneous seizures when I was unable to recognise people after coming to, persistent nausea, hand and body tremors. However, I am not sure how much of these effects can be attributed to ect or the medication that I was consuming during the period.

1. Are the symptoms above indicative of permanent brain damage?

2. Is the brain damage reversible? If so, how do I know for sure whether my brain has reverted to its former state?

3. Should I seek legal recourse? Is the doctor negligent if such treatments was used as a first-line and my consent was not provided? However, consent from my parents was probably given. I was 19 years old back then.

I wake up in fear and dread everyday. Please help me.

2 Comments Post a Comment
I am sorry to hear about the problems you are facing. Honestly speaking, it is very difficult to say whether your memory issues are due to ECT or due to the head injury you suffered during the assault. For this you need a battery of tests including a complete neurological examination, EEG and MRI. But yes, both ECT and head injury can cause memory loss.
The memory loss could just be due to concussion which at times persists for years and all of a sudden disappears and the person remembers everything. This does not have any long term complications. The person just needs support from family members and has to learn to live with the memory loss.
Memory loss is also a common symptom of frontal lobe injury. To treat memory loss, you have to find the cause first. If all brain related causes (transient ischemic attack, disorders of hypothalamus, dementia and multiple sclerosis, head injury etc) are ruled out then Vit B12 deficiency, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disorders (by sleep studies), depression, use of certain drugs, and certain types of seizures (where memory loss is the predominant symptom) should be investigated for as the cause of memory loss. Apart from sleep studies, EEG, you may need cognitive tests like mini-mental state examination (MMSE) or Folstein test. Memory loss can at times be treated through therapy and learning skills. Do discuss this with your doctor and get yourself examined. Take care!
Please start with your family dr. Get a physical,blood tests, and a referral to a neurologist. Your questions are best asked after all the necessary tests have been done.You can discus any questions and treatments for any cognitive impairment or other medical conditions that might factor into it. A therapist can be a very valuable part of your care team, because you need help with the fear and dread you are living with. You can review information on ECT from many credible sources, such as the mayo clinic. ECT does cause for memory loss. People might experience memory loss before,during or after the treatments.You have the right to obtain your medical records form the hospital that performed the ETC treatments and from the new tests you will have done.
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