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Avatar universal

Is ECT the ONLY Alternative?

My mother was admitted to the Mental Health Unit of a local hospital two weeks ago.  She suffers from severe depression.  
She was seeing a psychologist for a couple of months and then just became overwhelmed.  She admitted herself to the unit and has gotten progressively worse.  She has lost about 30 pounds in the last three months, she obssess about just about everything, she gets angry and sometimes violent.  My mother is very religious and she says that Satan is taking over her mind and God is punishing her for not being strong enough to rely on him.  She hears voices.

She has harmed herself physically while in the unit and has to wear adult incontinence products now.  She can barely shower or do anything else.  She hasn't slept for more than a couple hours each night for the last month.  

The doctor put her on Serzone and her blood pressure was becoming dangerously low.  He has told my father that other than putting her in a home for the rest of her life, her only option is ECT.

This seems so frightening and some of the stories I have read from patients who have had ECT really contradict the information I find on other medical websites.

Is it too soon to be trying this treatment?  Is there any other alternative?  Is this REALLY a safe procedure?  

Sorry this is so long.
6 Responses
Avatar universal
Tracy,

     Your mother has both mood symptoms(depression) and psychotic features(hearing voices) resulting in a dangerous level of incapacitation.  It also appears that she is not responding to serzone and she is experiencing some side effects.
     ECT(electroconvulsive therapy) is not the only option in this case but may be the best.  Its not clear if other medications have been tried or are currently being prescribed.  ECT is a safe and very effective treatment for mood related problems(mania, depression).  It has the potential to work faster than medications and for this reason is often suggested in a case where an immediate response is needed(ie suicide, significantly impaired functioning etc).
     ECT is safe and doesn't have the side effects of many medications.  There is no pain involved with ECT.  Patients are placed under anesthesia(put to sleep) for ECT.  The average number of treatments are 6 to 8.  It would be the treatment of choice for a patient with your mothers symptoms.

     Keep in mind that this information is intended for general educational purposes only.  Please consult your personal phsician for specific health concerns.

Sincerely,

HFHS MD-JM

Keyword: ECT
Avatar universal
I am an R.N. and have seen wonderful results from ECT.  I have actually seen the procedure, and it  is nothing like the "scarey" shock treatments we used to see on t.v.  It actually is very mild, and the person has VERY small tremors during the actual shock.  I have noticed, that people that have a lot of ECT do tend to have problems with short term memory.

Avatar universal
Is it too soon to be trying this treatment though?  Don't they usually try this after several medications have failed and other medical tests rule out any physical problem?

It just seems like such a drastic jump to make.  I have received email messages from patients who have received ECT treatments and they are very much AGAINST this process.  

Is this something she would have to have the rest of her life?

Thanks for your response.  This is very difficult and I appreciate any information and suggestions.
Avatar universal
Is ECT a reasonable alternative? You should ask yourself if the high risk (one-HALF of ECT patients report memory problems 3 YEARS after the shock) of permanent memory loss and brain damage is worth a TEMPORARY reprieve from depression. Nearly all who receive ECT relapse within a few months.

Most doctors are as ignorant as the rest of you about shock treatment. The standard 'medical' textbook on shock is written by a shock proponent who is CEO of an electroshock device manufacturing company! Hardly a source of unbiased information. This is where most of the 'experts' answering questions here have gotten their 'information.'

I suggest you find out all you can from a variety of sources, and pay better attention to the accounts of electroshock survivors than the medical establishment does. A good place to start would be www.ect.org. Make up your own mind!

Tim
Avatar universal
In response to the nurse who noticed that shock 'patients' frequently have impaired short-term memory I will post this quote from a neurologist (a specialist of the brain, which shock doctors are NOT).

"Memory Loss Is A Symptom of Brain Damage. What else could it be?"

John Friedberg M.D., author of Shock Treatment Is Not Good For Your Brain, San Francisco Bay Guardian, April 18, 1990.
Avatar universal
This seems to be a very positive treatment, but read on the research!!
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