Our expert says:
I think jcat provides valuable comments based on direct personal experience. Personally, I haven't used or recommended ECT in people under my care for many years --- but then that depends in good degree on the nature of the people I work with. For instance, when I began doing increasing work with people damaged by trauma, ECT is not generally seen as of any value in such situations.
I would agree with jcat --- I don't think it should be used too readily --- I am really concerned about a couple of shrinks who seem to want to use it routinely in people in their first episodes of Depression, which I certainly would not recommend.
But in people who have had multiple episodes of severe depression, not sufficiently responding to medication and other treatments, it probably ought to be considered as an option, and some people find very considerable relief from it. Short-term memory loss early on is probably the most significant possible side-effect.
And the loss seems to be in memory for very recent events during the actual course of treatment, and while some people find that bothersome, I haven't come across any serious problems actually arising from it. Anxiety about this may in itself scramble your memory more than the ECT does --- when one panics about "I can't remember ANYTHING!" it becomes harder to remember anything, until one calms down. I find this in my own memory lapses. In your case, for instance, you happilly remember us on the forum, and how to log in to us and ask the question, and soon --- long-term memory, for things that happened and which you did before the ECT should be unchanged. I wouldn't expect the whole experience to improve your usual quality of memory, but what I suspect your psychiatrist meant is that this currently less than great level of short term memory function will improve.
It's like the guy who came to casualty with a broken arm, and asked the doctor who was putting on the plaster "Whill I be able to play the violin when this heals ?" The doctor said : "Yes, certainly !" And the guy said: "Gee, that's marvellous, I was never able to play the violin before, but I always wanted to !"
A broken bone, actually, can indeed sometimes heal to be stronger than it was previously ; memory at best returns to wherever it was
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