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One year post-ECT

Posted by Jake Hawkins on July 7, 2007, at 23:06:31

Hi all - I'm new to posting here, but I've been reading threads here for quite some time. I don't know exactly how to lead up to this, but I feel that I've encountered a new plateau in my quest for normalcy with my condition.

I guess what I am looking for is some assurance that my experience is not unique - at least, with ECT.

Starting when I was a teenager (about 14), I began to suffer from deep depression, visual and auditory hallucinations, and suicidal ideation, in addition to delusions of persecution. I finally sought treatment when I was 18 (7 years ago now), and endured several years of various medications, psychotherapy, and admission to various psychiatric instituations (voluntary, and involuntary).

Until the point in question (Nov 2005), I had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder - basically the catch-all for people with depression and psychosis. My psychiatrist and co-consults had been flirting with a dx alteration to bipolar disorder (type II), but wanted me to consult with a neurologist to determine if there was a biological factor at play. After undergoing diagnostic imaging, consultation with the neurologist and my psychiatrist, they concluded that there were no biological factors involved. They both recommended to me, and the rest of my therapy team that I undergo ECT, and see where that takes my treatment.

I consented, and underwent six series (two unilateral to each hemisphere, and two bilateral) over eight weeks, as an inpatient. Within two weeks, my depression had completely been abolished, I no longer suffered from any hallucinations, and no longer suffered from any delusions.

Post-ECT imaging showed a marked decrease in trans-hemispheric activity (in contrast to the high amount shown pre-ECT), which both the neurologist and my psychiatrist postulated was a direct proponent of the relief of my disorder. I was withdrawn from my medication regimen at my request, and have been completely "normal" since.

However, I have noticed that my stress floor has decreased significantly, and upon mentioning that to my psychiatrist, was written for a low dose of Xanax prn, and it has helped my ability to handle highly stressful situations. As stress was initially a factor in symptom exacerbation originally, both my psychiatrist and myself felt that it serves a prophylactic measure to ensure that I am able to effectively enforce my acquired coping strategies in a timely fashion.

So far, it works. Is there anyone else out there that has had similar success with short-order ECT ? Most people I have spoken to either continue with maintenance ECT, or underwent multiple groups of series.




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