Sorry I was away for a bit, dear reader. I went through some med changes, thus head changes and was confused and out of sorts, but I feel like things are becoming more under control now.
This week I went to a renowned teaching university hospital, one of the best in the state. I went there to learn more about electroconvulsive therapy, also known as ECT. I am considering ECT as a treatment for my depression that comes along with my bipolar disorder. It scares me how dark depression is and how, if I want to, I can carry out various acts.
Here is a rundown of ECT and how it works. I found it helpful and maybe you will too.
ECT is a treatment for episodes of major depression, mania, and schizophrenia (which is right up my alley). ECT makes a brief controlled electrical current which produces a seizure in your brain. Although we do not know exactly how it works, it is believed that the seizure activity produces a chemical change in the brain which may cause symptoms to disappear.
The next question I had was “Is it safe?” Prior to having the procedure at this particular hospital there are medical, psychiatric, and laboratory tests conducted to assure that the procedure can be done in the safest way possible. A ECT workup will be preformed which may include a physical exam, EKG, and blood work.
Treatments are performed every other day of the week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Patients have eight to twelve treatments that take place over three to four weeks.
After treatment there will likely be some retrograde memory loss. How long it lasts depends on the patient and their brain. Someone must accompany the patient to the appointment because the patient will be groggy from the anesthesia.
Because I live alone, well with my two four-legged babies, they worried about my being alone during these treatment, at least for the first two weeks. I explained to my parents what I needed, to stay with them and also for rides to the hospital. During those first two weeks I will be unable to drive so I will need them to take me to regular appointments.
All of this sounds a bit scary but good to me. There are some hesitations though, the hospital is nearly two hours away that is a lot of car time and gas. I have only been under anesthesia once for a surgery, the idea of going so often frightens me. Worst of all, what if it does not work? I have always thought of ECT as a last resort even though multiple psychiatrists have suggested it. I mean, it is electricity purposely zapping your brain. I know it is not like one flew over the cuckoo’s nest featuring Jack Nickalson anymore, but it is still scary.
I do think that when things get really bad next tie I am going to give it a try. Maybe it will be miraculous or maybe it will leave me right where I started, but I will never know unless I try ECT.