What to consider before zapping a depressed brain?
March 10, 2012 3:06 PM Subscribe
Mom has gone from minor OCD behavior and compulsive thoughts to a severe depression with psychosis. The docs have started to recommend ECT, but she's terribly frightened of the possible side effects, namely the memory loss. If you have gone through ECT or have been involved in the decision to employ it, what information did you value when making the decision?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The process from non-symptomatic to light cleanliness OCD to obsessive thoughts (imps of the perverse) to now a feeling of "having died and being kept pretend-alive in a hell, toyed with by demons" took less than a year. The anti-depressants she received initially have been complimented with anti-psychotic medication, but except for being able to sleep now, we're not seeing any improvement, and she's feeling utter shit.
Because of the lack of progress, last week she was recommended to undergo ECT, but balked at the idea because of the risk of memory loss which she's read about and seen about on TV; not the short term retrograde memory loss, but rather permanent long term memory loss, as well as the inability to form new memories and loss of cognitive capacity.
Saying "there there" only goes so far, so I'm trying to read up a bit on what the benefit and risk of ECT is. Wikipedia gives a good overview of the controversies and sums up a few of the meta-analyses, and that's a start, as are the previous askme's. But I'm curious if the hive has any personal experience with ECT — as a patient, relative or caregiver — as to which information made you decide for or against it, or what situation forced the matter?
FWIW, she can manage herself, interacts OK with others, isn't suicidal. But assuming that the diagnosis is correct, her severe depression and psychosis can become worse and even though she's said that she'd rather exhaust all psychopharmacological alternatives before ECT, there's only so much time you can keep that up if it doesn't help. She has weekly talks with a psychiatrist as well as a CB therapist, and got the ECT recommendation when seeking a second opinion on her medications from another psychiatrist.