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ECT for Treatment Resistant Depression?

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  • ECT for Treatment Resistant Depression?

    A person I know is running out of options and her doctor, therapist and another independent doctor have suggested this treatment. How does it affect riding (balance, muscle coordination, long-term effects?)

  • #2
    I don't have any answers for you but I recently read an essay on the topic (national newspaper feature) and I was impressed so I thought I'd share.



    • #3
      I used to be the one who pushed the button.
      Even with all the modern trappings, its a difficult procedure to watch, knowing you are shooting so much electricity into such a delicate and vital organ. Its hard to watch people in the recovery room, as they are often disoriented and for a few days after, the memory is not working so well.

      But you know what's even harder?
      Watching a depression that will not lift devastate someone's life, despite adequate trials of all the modern chemicals- and they are certainly not without their long term effects either.

      Your friend is obviously consulting several experts on this and they are recommending it. If she's had no relief from over a year of pharmacotherapy at maximal doses and with the addition of adjunctive treatments, perhaps it will help. It doesn't help everyone, but as the person in the article says, within about 6-8 treatments, one should notice a difference. Since it only takes a few weeks to get 6 or 8 treatments in, it is a much faster response than with most of the antidepressants. It is much safer than the drugs for many people too and you don't have to keep taking a pill everyday.

      While I would not recommend strenuous physical exercise for anyone undergoing active treatment, because the treatment itself leaves one feeling headachey and exhausted, I have not seen it affect long term muscle coordination or balance.

      She might also ask about transcranial magnetic stimulation which is somewhat less invasive and probably as effective.
      "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


      • #4
        Are they 100% it's depression?

        There's lots of physical problems with the same symptoms. I was treated for depression for years (close to 30!) it wasn't until this past year when someone finally took the right blood test & nailed it.


        • #5

          I feel like you've asked this question in the wrong place. That you should be asking questions like this of medical professionals, doctors etc. And that you should do some research about post treatment effects on medical sites.
          How on earth would a bunch of horsepeople be able to answer those questions? However, thank you to those who have with their own knowledge and experience!


          • #6
            Originally posted by wateryglen View Post
            I feel like you've asked this question in the wrong place. That you should be asking questions like this of medical professionals, doctors etc. And that you should do some research about post treatment effects on medical sites.
            How on earth would a bunch of horsepeople be able to answer those questions? However, thank you to those who have with their own knowledge and experience!
            well, because many of us horse people are also doctors and medical professionals and bankers and lawyers and sailors and no doubt, Indian Chiefs.

            As well, just as you say, its worthwhile to ask because some other rider may have had actual experience with a non horsey topic. The OP's question was quite specific.
            "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


            • #7
              I'm an LCPC, and although I do not personally care for this treatment, it is not because it does not work. CoL has been very helpful in sharing her opinions and experience, and I think if you are truly interested in this type of treatment, you ought to continue researching and exploring the pros and cons.

              When I work with people that are severely and chronically depressed, I typically send them to their PCP to have blood work done to r/o any possible medical conditions. I also like to try referring them to a psychiatrist who specializes in depression. If they are female, it can sometimes be an issue of hormonal imbalances, so that needs to be ruled out as well. I still have to consider an Axis II diagnosis as well as anything on III and of course IV. It all truly works together to form a VERY complex but full picture. The age of the person and educational/occupational background/growth is important as well.

              I have worked with many people who have had TBI's and who suffer from seizure D/O's and my personal opinion of ECT is that it should be reserved as a very last effort if all else has been exhausted and has failed. This included second and third opinions. One other thing to keep in mind is, some insurance companies are no longer including this in their coverage; it has a controversial "edge" to it at the moment, and the reason many insurances do not cover it is due to the malpractice insurance providers have to cary. I'm sure CoL can elaborate more, as it appears she is far more aware of this than I am.

              Anything that can change your muscle response/muscle tone is bound to have an affect on your riding, though it is unlikely to have long-term effects. I do not recall people who received ECT having long-term paralysis or anything even remotely like that, but again, CoL can better respond to this, I think.

              I truly wish your friend the best of luck.
              All of us are crazy, just some of us get caught.


              • #8
                ECT is a very, very old therapy for mental illness. I'm sixty, and my father had it in the 1930's and the 1950's as did the grandmother of my best friend. It is the one treatment that terrified my father; and the memory damage was permanent in my best friend's grandmother.

                I understand that these days the preparation for the treatment makes it much less horrific for the patient. I also understand that because of its horrific nature in the olden days, it is still under a huge cloud, despite the advances that make it so much more humane.

                It's something that I would be tempted to reject out of hand at first blush, but after research and discussion might be persuaded to at least consider.
                "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                Thread killer Extraordinaire


                • #9
                  I know someone whose memory loss is permanent. She doesn't remember giving birth to her son, nor raising him for the most part. However, the depression was a monster itself as well. If your friend does decide to go through with it, could you suggest to her to write a short memoir first, maybe even through video, or have her family make her a memory book just in case she loses those memories? My friend says this was the hardest part.
                  Somewhere in the world, Jason Miraz is Goodling himself and wondering why "the chronicle of the horse" is a top hit. CaitlinAndTheBay