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Electroconvulsive therapy ( ECT)

Updated: Mar 30

My journey in dealing with symptoms with Bipolar Disorder started a long time ago. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I a little over 20 years ago. Since my diagnosis I have had several manic episodes that required me to be hospitalized. I learned the warning signs red flags and symptoms. I became more aware of these things and addressed any problems that I thought I saw coming. For example sleep. I knew if my sleep was off, meaning I need less of it that I needed to be on top of it. My focus for the longest time has been addressing the mania. When I was manic it landed me in the hospital, so mania was my focus. Today I realize and have accepted that this focus on mania, although based on my history, was inadequate. I have the form of bipolar that my manic symptoms are not constant. I can go months or years without mania. However, I live more on the depressed end and when I was/am depressed I did/do not always recognize the symptoms. I'm not going to discuss my slow recognition of depression episodes here but from this recognition I know if I can address the depression I can mitigate the potential for being hospitalized. I have been taking medication for decades and have tried different therapies such as CBT, DBT, IPSRT and others. I have learned about the human biome and its ability to produce neurotransmitters. I have learned that diet and excise has an impact on mental health. This is a discussion for another post. I have been aware of ECT for a very long time. I know that it has been used to treat depression and other concerns including other symptoms of Bipolar. I never considered ECT because of my negative feelings around the history of ECT once called 'shock therapy'. In the United States many patients that went through this procedure in the past were not willing participants. Many that went through the treatment had body sourness broken bones and broken teeth. Today, the procedure is done under general anesthesia. Procedures that are done today are done with an individual's informed consent unless there is a guardian involved. A muscle relaxer or other medication is used to control body convulsions to prevent bodily harm like broken teeth or body sourness. The electric pulse that is used during treatment causes the brain to have a seizure. The seizure is what the procedure is intended to produce. I know people personally that have gone through ECT treatments. I have gotten mixed feedback. I have read about the efficacy of the treatment and the studies that have been reported show positive results. Some studies have suggested that ECT treatment is more affective than medication when treating depression. I am focused on the treatment of depression and have not explored the results for other conditions. An issue that concerns me about ECT today, is the seizure that occurs in the brain. It is unclear how the seizure actually improves depression symptoms. There are article that discuss the neuroplastc effects of ECT and the importance of neuroplasticity on depression. For more information on this topic you can review articles from The National Library of Medicine. The same issue can be said about certain medications to treat mental conditions. In addition, The measure of improvement for depression is based on improved symptoms that can last for months. So symptoms may reoccur and require additional treatment. There are side effects from ECT. Short term memory loss is common. This can last at varying degrees. Some that have been treated have noted longer term memory loss and other side effects that impact cognition. ECT requires a commitment. Because you will be under general anesthesia you will need a ride from the treatment center. There are usually multiple treatments lasting a few weeks. If you work this can be disruptive. You should discuss with a medical professional the best cause of action for treating your depression. Some people I have talked to say that it has saved there life. Depression impacts people in many different ways. Some have more sever symptoms than others. The procedure today is very different than in the past. I have decided to continue addressing my depression without using ECT for now, your journey may be different. I will continue to explore options and treatments that benefit me. I hope you do the same.

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