Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure, done under general anesthesia, in which electric currents are passed through the brain, to trigger a seizure in the hope and belief that it will cause changes in brain chemistry that will reverse symptoms of certain psychiatric diagnoses including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and even autism.
ECT is promoted daily by psychiatrists, celebrities and the media as being a safe, effective and underutilized medical treatment. It is being recommended for all ages from 2-year-old toddlers to seniors in their late 90s. The actual way in which ECT works is unknown.
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ECT Administered for Akathisia
Victim, Toronto, Canada
I was being given ECT (without my permission) for 'refractory severe depression' and 'involuntary movements'. I really don't understand what this document means - my brain was destroyed by electroshock. I did, in fact, have akathisia. Psychiatrist David Healy has written extensively about AKATHISIA. And you can get akathisia from pharmaceuticals other than psych drugs. Do an internet search on cipro and akathisia.
Dec. 11, 2003
Question of organic brain disease and early dementia in a patient undergoing ECT for refractory depression
(1) A large number of intermittent and at times nearly continuous polymorphic slow wave activity in the theta and delta frequency bands between 3-4.5 Hz was recorded independently over both frontotemporal regions with a slight left sided predominance. Equipotentiality was seen between electrodes F7-T3 on the left and F8-T4 on the right. The background activity consisted of a relatively well regulated 9.5- 10 Hz alpha rhythm recorded over both parieto-occipital and posterior temporal regions which reacted normally to eye opening and closure.
Hyperventilation increased abnormality 1 bilaterally and also induced the appearance of bilaterally synchronous intermittent slow wave activity in the theta and delta bands recorded over both frontocentrotemporal areas without side predominance. Intermittent photic stimulation evoked a mild driving response over both occipital regions.The EKG showed normal sinus rhythm.
This EEG showed the presence of a mild-moderate intermittent and at times nearly continuous non-epileptiform disturbance of cerebral activity recorded independently over both frontotemporal regions appearing maximal over the anterior and mid temporal structures with a slight left sided predominance during this EEG,The recorded abnormalities were very likely related to the effects of current ECT treatment and resultant post-ictal changes, no definite inter-ictal epileptiform changes were recorded during this tracing In contrast, the cortical background activity was well preserved and would argue against the presence of any form of neurodegenerative dementia. I was later sent for an MRI. Results unknown.
A Shaman Looks at my ECT-damaged Brain
I frequently come across this article https://foreverconscious.com/a-shamans-view-of-mental-illness and I do have mixed feelings. However, several months post ECT I asked a shaman to describe what ECT did to my brain. Here are some excerpts:
"Image – leads and wires from head – covering surface – meningeal blood vessels – feel forced constriction- arterial particularly – medication effect on smooth blood vessels. Jaw – articular disc compressed Can't think straight, difficulty matching thoughts & actions. Sense of nervous system just barely holding things together. Looking from larger view – image of diffuse, expanded energies – like a web pulled so thin you can barely see it. No sense of separation – where one begins and one ends, others begin and end. Some evidence of petechial damage ...scarring and recovery, some fibers non-functional(frayed, circuits blown, circuits degraded) some fibers and cells strong and vibrant, some areas 'super-sensitive' able to respond with very little stimulation – also able to connect to body and body experience of supersensitivity...tingling, sensitivity to touch, sensitivity to noise, sensitivity to changes in temperature.
I would cry if I could.
They lied by omission
L., Ontario, Canada
They lied by omission. No one mentioned retrograde amnesia, anterograde amnesia, cognitive deficits, neurological damage, physical damage, psychological damage. No one mentioned the risks of anaesthesia. They asked only for my consent on a form. I was so drugged I didn't know what I was agreeing to. Apparently they told my husband there might be a slight and temporary memory loss.
I was terrified while lying on a gurney shaking from fear, from hyperthyroidism, from hypoglycemia, from pharmaceutical drug withdrawal, and from akathisia - a motor restlessness syndrome caused by medication. I couldn't comprehend why I was being tortured in the name of medicine. I am still terrified of doctors.
“Doctors of Deception”
Linda Andre New York, USA
I don't know if it's worse to have had a life and not remember any of it, than not to be able to have a life because of ECT.www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/doctors-of-deception/9780813544410
Psychiatric Assault Because I Smoked POT
F.S. Ontario, Canada
I experienced a very clear cut case of psychiatric assault. In the early 70’s I endured a severe psychiatric beating, even though I was a self-admitted, totally compliant, naive guy, who thought there were people who would counsel me regarding my habitual pot smoking. I didn’t even expect to be held overnight. The only counselling I got was my family doctor contradicting me for a tense 30 seconds before the hellish injections started.
There was a big generation gap back then and there were plenty of reactionary types beating down on the “youth counter-culture”. A few years later he convinced an employer to rescind their offer of employment to me, but before that, having suffered serious adverse medication reactions, I was held and given 16 electroshocks by a right wing psychiatrist, who claimed she was going to reprogram me. She released me a year later, after zombifying me and enslaving me in a “work therapy” program. Immediately, I attempted suicide, but fortunately, I survived a deliberate 60 mph head on crash into a concrete wall, with merely a nosebleed. Amazingly, I wasn’t hurt and I climbed out of the wreck with a whole new strategically attuned attitude. It was all legal back then. Close friends and family were flummoxed into acquiescence. In 1978, my protest against workplace discrimination on the sole basis of psychiatric history became possibly the first story of this type to go national in the Associated Press, but for me, the damage was already done. Although most major memories of people, places, conversations and events did eventually return, ECT wiped out a lot of very important detail from my mind, and made it impossible for me to continue my studies for many years. ECT also eradicates subtle faculties that you develop over time, which are vital to healthy social interaction and growth. Trying to function in society after the loss of these faculties, often leads to suicide. I was lucky to survive what I now know was a fascist suppression of my being, disguised as medical treatment.
I Lost My Memory, My Emotions and My Personality
M.J.P. Kehrala, India
I had bad childhood .At a tender age I was admitted to a famous boarding school..Though I remained academically good i was emotionally numb there. I could not cope up with the sense of loss of home coupled with bullying and harsh rules.So I had a problem in functioning as an adult.
I went to college and got a good job. I did not have good social skills. I felt the need to talk to my parents about my dfificulties at boarding school. i took leave from the company. I agreed to some non medical treatments .My family decided I was mentally ill and tricked me into taking drugs. Then i was locked in mental hospital in Kozhikode and was given repeated electric shock.
So what happens such treatments make you lose your personality your emotions and your memory? It destroyed me but still my family did not understand. ECT or shock treatment can only be done with consent but Ii was not given any clue. I am just trying to get some humanity which I was denied.
I have suffered from depression and tinnitus for 20 years. I'm 67 now and before 47 I had a happy life – a loving spouse, three beautiful children. Worked part time when my kids were young and then full time. I was able to go back to school at age 35 and graduated at age 40 with a college degree. Suddenly just before my 47th birthday after starting a new job I felt like I was hit like a ton of brick the first month there. This was the beginning of my world falling apart. I got back on my feet fairly quickly.but I had another episode two years later after a broken ankle and problems at work.
I was admitted to the hospital. They talked me into ECT. I wish we had looked into it first but I was in no condition and my husband wanted his wife back. The doctors explained it only would effect my short term memory while having the treatments. In 1 1/2 years I had SIXTY TREATMENTS! I have no idea why I had so many. My husband feels terrible that this happened and that he didn't look into it more. Twice we went away for 3 weeks and I regressed so they continued the treatments. It was a reputable hospital, very clean and professional. Everyone there was nice and caring. INVESTIGATE BEFORE YOU HAVE ANY TREATMENT OF ANY KIND.
Having to deal with memory problems makes for a great deal of stress. What I really have trouble dealing with is the fact that it didn't just effect my short term – it wiped out memories for at least two decades. I don't recall my kids marriages, I have trouble remember grandchildren that were born before and after the treatments. I have trouble doing simple math like adding a couple of numbers. In school I had Economics, Statistics as well as programming languages. It's all gone I'm embarrassed adding a tip because I can't do the math.
I'm really scared that I'm losing my mind.. I see a therapist and psychiatrist, but I'm not doing well but surviving thanks to my family. I only hope that the public becomes more aware of the abuse of ECT and something can be done to change the thinking of doctors. I am thankful I have a new therapist and med manager who disagree with ECT treatment. My doctor has also set up a plan to reduce the medications I am on. My previous doctor would just add another med.
"Electroshock is Torture. "
My own experience with ECT was a brutal one. At sixteen, I had between 20-30 bilateral electroshock treatments, the kind most likely to result in damage to memory and thinking. Even more unfortunately, I did not receive anesthesia to put me to sleep beforehand. I was left awake to experience the full effects of the muscle relaxant drug injected into my vein as it paralyzed my breathing—probable one of most excruciating, painful experiences one can have.
Each time, I was sure I was dying and would never wake up. Even though most will not recall their electroshock experience, I did. And even now, over 50 years later, I still have unpleasant thoughts on an almost daily basis about it and the doctor who gave them to me. This particular variation in the administration of ECT is described by Peter Breggin, Electro-Shock: Its Brain-Disabling Effects, 1979, Pp. 167-8. Dr. Breggin says is not recommended by most Psychiatrists, but that some use it anyways. I had previously been a nearly all “A” student in school. But after being released from the hospital and returning to school nine months after I had shock treatment, my grades fell off. I also had embarrassing difficulties with speech, concentration, and memory which took years to overcome. I am still not sure I am back to where I was before. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend ECT in persons under eighteen years of age. Many experts says that this group is more vulnerable to the ill effects of shock than adults.
Doctors say Riikka 'should have expected some damage'
My wife Riikka has a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, was taking medication, and had been stable for years. She moved from Finland to Sweden because of work. We both speak English. We met in Sweden and we have a young daughter. As soon as she arrived in Sweden, Riikka contacted the local hospital to get a regular contact for her Bipolar Disorder. After waiting for two years for such a contact, she started to feel a depression coming on, and contacted the local psychiatric ward. She did not receive psychotherapy; instead, she was told that her medications were inappropriate. She was given Lithium and then a new drug cocktail. Lithium gave her shakes and muscle spasms. We went to her home in Finland for Christmas. We had a great holiday, but when we got back, she continued to deteriorate. She returned to the psychiatric ward.
At this time Riikka spoke and understood very little Swedish. She was not offered a translator, which is mandatory by law. She had been in the ward for less than 48 hours when she was told not to eat or drink anything because she was to receive ECT. She was not given any information about ECT. She told them NO and called me for help. Unfortunately, I thought the doctors knew best. A few hours later she called back. She sounded drunk. She had a headache. She was terrified and in a panic. I met with her doctors a few days later. By that time I had read up on ECT. I asked them to stop giving her ECT. The doctors didn’t stop and the next day she had ECT again. She was so docile from the ECT that she agreed to everything.
I went to the local police station which put me in touch with the head of the entire Swedish health care system. They called the ward and asked for the ECT to be stopped. She'd already had five bilateral sessions. There was much misunderstanding between us and the doctors. Riikka was taken off the lithium after three months. Because of the problems related to ECT, she cold-turkeyed off her drugs.
She has headaches every day. She's constantly tired. She has problems learning new stuff. She used to be a whiz at math but now needs a calculator. She's lost her English language skills and even some of her native Finnish. After going off her meds she feels slowly better. Her short term memory has not improved, neither has her timeline of past events. She has to use notes and calendars for everything. Before ECT she could plan a five-week vacation down to the smallest detail without having to write anything down. Doctors insist that she did receive information about ECT and ‘should have expected getting some damage'. The doctor who gave her ECT claims that her memory should become better after ECT than it was before ECT. We have filed a complaint. We are not letting this go and will spread Riikka's story as far as we can. I want to bring the Swedish health care system to justice.
When I said “NO” four strong guys dragged me to the ECT room
Ulrika F., Sweden
I turned to psychiatry when I became depressed after a series of traumas. Two doctors decided there and then that I was in such bad shape that I should not be allowed to return home. They put me in an asylum (psychiatric care). I was there for five months. I got a lot of psych meds. What I didn't get was what I wanted and needed – someone to talk to, someone to listen to me, and someone to support me. After a few weeks I felt much worse.
The doctors wanted me to have ECT. I really really didn't want ECT. I said 'NO!' I was scared to death. Four strong guys dragged me down the hall to the ECT room and held me down until I was asleep.
That was in 2011. They gave me 16 shocks. I still don't remember several years of my life. I don't even remember my years at university. I have problems learning things and problems remembering things. I used to get lost every day. I had to call my husband every day, crying because I couldn't find my way to day care to get my son. It's about hundred meters from my home. I cried because I didn't remember the day care nor the people who worked there.
I didn't remember how to cook. How do you cook potatoes? How do you cook rice. And what is sugar and what is salt? How and when do you use it? How do you use a computer? How do you buy a bus ticket? How do you pay your bills? etc, etc. I forgot my own language (Swedish), I forgot English. I didn't recognize people. I didn't remember that people had died and that I had been at their funerals. I didn't remember that one of my friends had cancer.
I had to relearn EVERYTHING. I was still depressed and by now I was suicidal. In 2013 I was again put in the asylum and ECT was again forced. My husband fought to make them quit and after six sessions they did quit. And again, I had to relearn everything. Today I still have problems remembering things. Many years are still totally blank. My son's first years are also gone. I still have problems recognizing people. I'm not the same person I was before ECT. I don't recognize myself. My husband doesn't recognize me. My friends don't recognize me.
All I ever wanted was someone to talk to, someone to listen to what I've been through. Instead doctors destroyed my brain with ECT. It's a big sorrow.
Like an alien dropped to earth. 'It's not supposed to be this way’
Susan S. Chicago, USA
I have been diagnosed with Major Depression for nearly 40 years and have been successfully treated with antidepressant medication. I don't have an issue with that because the meds made me feel normal.
I was very high functioning. I worked in the mental health and addictions fields and earned a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology along with certification as an alcoholism and drug abuse counselor. After more than 20 years I changed careers to become a teacher. I got a Master's degree in special education and after teaching for a few years decided I really liked teaching kids to read. I earned an Ed.S. which is a doctoral level degree in Reading Education. I had a 4.0 GPA in each of my graduate school programs. Things were going well.
In January 2017 I started getting cortisone shots in my shoulder. By March I was planning my suicide. I would later find out that a side effect of cortisone can be severe depression with suicidal ideation.
Despite many trials of different medication my depression worsened. My psychiatrist kept talking to me about ECT but I was reluctant because I didn't want to lose my memory. He assured me that any memory loss would be for the time when I was getting ECT and if it was more than that, the memory would return.
I was miserable and searched online for the best way to kill myself. I didn't want to die but I didn't want to live feeling the way I did. My primary care physician urged me to follow the psychiatrist's recommendations. All of my doctors knew I was getting the cortisone shots but never told me it could be a cause of my sudden medication resistant depression and suicidality. I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital at the beginning of September 2017. My last cortisone shot had been at the end of August.
I had nine shock treatments. When I got out of the hospital I felt like an alien who had been dropped to earth. I had a birthday in October, shortly after I was discharged. I knew it was my birthday but didn't know how old I was. I didn't recognize my neighbors. I knew I was a teacher but I didn't remember what grade I taught, what school I worked at, any of my students or fellow teachers. It was all a blank. I had to re-learn how to operate my car and how to get around town. I had been studying to take a state test to get a Reading Specialist endorsement added to my teaching license but memory about that subject was wiped out as well. All my psychiatrist had to say was, "It's not supposed to be this way." I found out it is exactly this way for a great many people.
I am telling my story because I don't believe that people are fully informed of all of the side effects of ECT. Because psychiatrists are trained that ECT is an appropriate solution to severe medication resistant depression it is too easily used. I should have been offered the option of hospitalization until the cortisone left my system.
I didn't realize that not only has my brain been damaged as evidenced by my retrograde and anterograde amnesia but I also now run a very high risk for developing cataracts, trouble seeing, eye movement disorders, hearing loss, tinnitus, balance abnormalities along with cardiac problems.
The terror of receiving ECT is stored in my body's memory
Jess B, Australia
I am 26 years old. I sought mental health help when I was 18. I had ECT when I was 18/19 and am now on a disability pension. Since I came off psychotropic drugs (which was torture) my experience of post-ECT brain damage is very clear. I feel trapped inside a brain and body that aren’t functioning correctly. I experience emotional numbness, symptoms of PTSD, a decrease in divergent, creative thinking; extreme negativity, and difficulty finding words. I take longer to do simple tasks. Blankness. Loss of self. Confusion and fear. I have the terror of receiving ECT stored in my body’s memory.
I want people to know that ECT is a serious form of abuse to the mind, body and soul of a person. The therapy is torture and brain injury. You cannot consent to this. Possible memory loss was all that I was informed of. I was not suicidal before ECT. I wish neurologists, brain injury experts and PTSD experts would step in. The distress of being severely harmed and trying to survive, stops people from speaking out. People commit suicide because no one believes them. They do not receive brain injury support. The betrayal is insidious. Some people are so much worse off than I am. This kills me knowing how much I struggle internally. Many things I cannot express. This is a human rights issue that is being ignored. People are overwhelmed, afraid and most are choosing to suffer in silence.
I am working with an alternative body based healer who is helping me gain more self and feeling, sensation and calm, while respecting my own neurological restrictions.
46 years of living with the after-effects of ECT
Oliver Swingler, England
I was brought up in a family affected by sexual abuse and was only 12 years old when I saw my first psychiatrist.
was sectioned, diagnosed with catatonic depression, and filled up to the eyeballs with drugs. When I didn’t ‘get better’ quickly enough I was given ECT. I don’t know how many shocks because when I started to make noises about suing, my medical records were ‘lost’.
Soon after ECT, someone whom I didn’t recognize visited me in hospital. I learned that we’d shared a communal flat, eating drinking, talking almost every day of the previous year. When I was sent back to my family home, I discovered my current address book, and frantically phoned some strange names in it, hoping their voices would bring back glimmers of recognition.
I couldn’t remember all of the alphabet, nor my times table. For weeks I didn’t know the first names of my parents, nor my three siblings. I moved to a town where almost no-one knew me. I still have cold sweats in large groups when I might be called upon to introduce people I’d known for years, but can’t remember their names.
For 46 years I’ve lived a moment to moment existence, coping every day with an emotional yo-yo. For a long time my sleep was rare – like those twitching frog’s legs, I suffer from muscular spasms that jerk me awake when I lie down and try to relax. I still have an irrational fear of doctors and hospitals, as many ECT survivors do, which has affected my physical health.
I’m told ECT is given to cure suicidal tendencies. Before ECT I was never suicidal Three years after ECT I almost took my own life with countless crushed up pills. My wrists still bear scars. For years, I didn’t own a TV, it affected me too much. I go to the cinema about once a year – Schindler’s List left me shattered for about a month, and Jurassic Park gave me nightmares and daymares for weeks, as if ECT had punched a hole in my aura, destroyed protection from outside influences.
But there can be life after ECT, moments of joy as well as sorrow. I’ve re-learnt much of the knowledge I lost, and gain self-respect from successes however small almost every day.
My stories and articles and my ECT fact sheet are published in my book “Mental Survival”
Lies and Cover-up
Julie Greene, USA
I was a talented and accomplished music student attending the prestigious Bennington College in Vermont. I excelled academically in every class I took. Fellow students respected my opinion and often approached me with academic or musical questions. I had performed at Avery Fischer Hall in New York and I also had an original composition of mine played by a local orchestra in Vermont. I entered the mental system at 23 voluntarily, only asking for help for an eating disorder. I regret this decision to this day.
My concerns were dismissed. Those treating me lacked insight into my condition. My eating disorder was never validated. I was even told I was faking it. Worse, they claimed I had a bad mother! I was treated for depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, and schizo-affective. They prescribed drug cocktails that ultimately caused permanent organ damage, and didn't help my eating disorder.
Fifteen years passed. I was still in the mental system. I was given shock At McLean Hospital in 1995, and then, more, including bilateral, in 1996. They continued with maintenance, wondering why I “wasn't responding.” I wasn't “responding” because they weren't treating nor acknowledging my primary complaint, my eating disorder. The shocks caused confusion, which was mistaken for depression. Many of the ECT “treatments” were administered when I was dangerously underweight at 80 pounds and no way was anesthesia even medically safe.
The shock was halted later in 1996. I estimate I had 30 shocks that year. Months later I was still quite incapacitated. I got lost on formerly familiar streets and even forgot how to dress and use a toothbrush.
I continued to challenge my doctors: “What is wrong with my brain?” Both my boyfriend and my parents blamed the shock, but I so stubbornly believed that doctors “do no harm” that I failed to admit the truth, believing the shock-induced incapacity was some terrible “illness.” In December 1996, a medical student whom I knew sat down with me. Step by step he gently coerced me into believing I had always been cognitively disabled and dependent. He told me even the best treatments hadn't cured me. I felt strangely relieved and off the hook because I didn't even have to try anymore. I believed I'd never get better.
I still didn't know that the profound change in me had happened as a result of the shock. The doctors attributed my confusion to an “underlying condition,” severe Borderline. It was insulting and like a death sentence. The BPD treatment didn't solve ECT brain damage nor address my eating disorder; in fact, it encouraged me to act BPD! The cover-up of harm did more long-lasting damage than the shock. I recovered from shock on my 40th birthday, about a year-and-a-half after they had stopped it. The demeaning BPD diagnosis was removed, but it had left me with damage I am still dealing with, even though 20 years have passed.
I left psychiatry behind in 2014. I do not see any mental health providers and am starting a new career. I am happy. However, I am left with a family split that happened due to the BPD lie. My sisters-in-law stopped speaking to me and my brothers raised their kids as if I, their aunt by blood, didn't exist. I spent all birthdays and holidays alone after the death of my boyfriend. While I am working hard to improve family relations, I know now, approaching my 60th birthday, I really have a long way to go. NOTE: My Bachelors and Masters degrees were accomplished while I was still a patient, but I had to do college "against medical advice." Actually, the doctors claimed I wasn't capable and they demanded that I quit, even though I was clearly a stellar student.
PhD Math student couldn’t add single-digit numbers
I am a scholarship PhD candidate in Engineering. I have a Master's degree in Computational Science. I was considered a child math prodigy. and had an ability to 'see' answers to questions. I could discretize a differential equation just by looking at the equation. I could even solve equations in my sleep. In some physics problems I could see/visualize how the system worked.
At the end of my first year as a PhD candidate, I had a serious depressive episode which forced me to take a leave of absence. My psychiatrist convinced me that in addition to antidepressants I should also have ECT. After 6 sessions of bilateral ECT I was still severely depressed but now also had memory loss, cognitive impairment, severe anxiety, insomnia and loss of balance. I couldn't even do math – it was wiped from my brain. My psychiatrist told me it was temporary and I would recover in a month. Months later nothing had improved. For a while I had difficulty adding 2 one-digit numbers.
I am suffering more than I did before ECT. My diagnoses and my meds have been changed several times. I carry a government-issued card which indicates I am disabled. I worked through MENSA arithmetic books for children as I prepared myself for my return to university.
Died. Heart attack
Anonymous, Ontario, Canada
She was already an angel in life. She was the kindest and most loving person I have ever known. She heard voices. Her neck, arms and legs were a mass of scars from cutting. She was overweight. A psychiatric facility had been the revolving door in her life since her early teens. I held her in my arms several times watching blood seep through bandages or, once, looking at fresh stitches across her neck.
One day at lunch, I suggested she stop eating bread so she could 'lose some weight and feel more comfortable'. I didn't discuss the role of gluten and fungal toxins in grains in brain health.
She lost 100 lbs in 7 months, she could exercise, she got a job and a boyfriend. The voices diminished and she could ignore those that remained. She didn't cut herself and had no hospitalizations for a year. She was happy. The invitation to her 31st birthday read: "join me in celebrating a new beginning, a new chapter in my journey to recovery". THEN a psychiatrist commended her on her mental and physical well-being – and told her there were not enough grains in her diet. I almost cried. She ate bread again. One month later she was back to hearing voices, back to cutting, and back to the psychiatric facility. She regained all the weight. She was given ECT – lots of it – she lost her memory and then her life. Her heart quit.
She needed to stay away from grains – all grains. She needed help with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. She didn't get help. And that just about sums up the ignorance of conventional psychiatry.
I did not consent to permanent disability
I am 28. One week post-ECT, I was unable to speak or comprehend language. I was in a constant state of delirium, staring blankly into space, and screaming to communicate. It took me more than four weeks post-ECT to be able to form sentences. Most of my sense of taste is gone. 99% of my autobiographical memory is gone. I am aggressive, disinhibited, have uncontrollable laughter/crying, and other symptoms that suggest moderate traumatic brain injury.
I wish my family had taken me to the ER earlier. Last week, two months after ECT, a neurologist ordered an EEG and CT to rule out stroke, aneurysm, and other ominous suspects. I'm sharing my soul-crushing experience in the hope that it can keep even one other person on the planet from going through this. Then, maybe, there is some freakish silver lining. Professionals cannot conceive of an anomalous outcome to a so-called safe procedure.
Another fine mess
Connie Neil, Toronto, Canada
In writing my massive memoir I had the mistaken belief that a large portion of my activist work in the 80s had been successful in protecting those who emotionally stumble from the torturous application of electroshock. Certainly ECT shuts them up (which is the point). Psychiatry knows it is merely a temporary fix, but the brain damage is lifelong.
A couple of years ago I met up (after thirty absent years) with anti-psychiatry activists Don Weitz and Bonnie Burstow. They were delighted to see me, pleased I am again taking up the pen to point out that ECT activities are expanding, and I am once again in a threatened target group –grandmothers.
My first shock experience was as a new mother with postpartum depression, a featured grouping in the 60s. No drugs or therapy were tried first: straight to the shock machine. It did not help that my mother-in-law was a registered nurse with the ear of her work-mate psychiatrist.
I thought I was protected when I showed up outside the Shock Room to meet with the chief shock doc of the entire area (Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Peterborough); so I boldly went through all the intake manipulations of memory tests and drug change trials, answering NO to every argument that what my anger needed was their “gentle” solution.
So I re-wrote AFTERSHOCK and launched it in 2016 with advice from the survivors still in this never-ending battle for health freedom. It’s filled with workable compassionate exercises to help balance your mental health.AFTERSHOCK is available as an e-book
It haunts me every day
I was an unhappy child. My mother abandoned us leaving my father to raise me and my brother. My parents divorced when I was 5 or 6. Forty five years ago this was uncommon. I spent most of my teenage years in a children's treatment facility. I was 17 when I was raped by a psychologist intern. My depression got only worse.
I was 21 when my 3-month-old son died. All I wanted to do was to hide in corners and cry hysterically. Doctors tried a few medications and then, when they decided I had grieved enough, ECT. My therapist said I was too hard a case and dropped me. How could I possibly get well after being abused by the whole mental health system? I lived in and out of hospitals until I was 35 years old. I developed many health problems, some caused by ECT – ADD, pseudotumor cerebri, nerve disorders, lost teeth, memory problems. I haven't seen a mental health professional in 15 years, I'm terrified of all of them.
ECT has destroyed my life! My thoughts, my ability to work, my relationships, my decisions making, my concentration, and, most of all my memory. This happened to me many years ago and yet it haunts me every day.
AFTERSHOCK: Life after ECT
Jane Rice Idaho, USA
Six months after ECT all my memories and cognitive abilities returned just like my psychiatrist said. I have a wonderful career that I excel at and can support myself with. I have tons of meaningful relationships. Best of all, my depression is cured – I'm happy and vivacious. Shock saved my life!
JUST KIDDING! Nine years later at age 31 I have dementia and ZERO working memory. This makes a career or a full-time education impossible. I depend on SSDI (Social Service Disability Insurance) and still live with my parents. I've become estranged from numerous friends and family members. Making and maintaining relationships is now insanely difficult. Not long after treatment, my depression returned. My doctors denied my brain damage and subsequent cognitive rehab I desperately needed. This left me believing for years that suicide was my only option. Shock destroyed my life.ECT Destroys Lives (video) https://aftershocklifeafterect.wordpress.com/author/aftershocksupport/
66 shocks left me with brain lesions and devastating memory loss
Deborah Schwartzkopff Oregon, USA
I had more than 66 ECT procedures. My memory problems are devastating. My experience with psychiatry began after I had a violent reaction to an SSRI drug. Instead of removing the problematic drug, the doctor started me on a psychiatric drug cocktail. He added more drugs to deal with the adverse effects of the first cocktail. I then came under the care of a psychiatrist who was researching the effect of multiple ECT sessions within a short period of time. Some days I would have 2 or 3 back-to-back procedures.
I was later treated by a psychiatrist who over prescribed benzodiazepines. (I eventually settled a psychiatric medical malpractice suit.) I was so impaired that my moods were all over the place and ECT was continued. I was often coerced into consenting. I was a trained classical pianist and lost all my ability to play or memorize music. I lost memories of the birth and the lives of my two children. I lost memories of my college education. I lost my skills as a level one trauma nurse. I can not hold onto new memory. I have brain lesions bilaterally on my frontal and temporal lobes with atrophy. That is my story – like so many others.
If harmed by ECT go to www.ectjustice.com and submit your story.
My youtube videos are at https://youtu.be/Igbi_Mv6BY4https://youtu.be/HjZrTd22P2Ihttps://youtu.be/WVPs6Z12yA8
I was 17 when ECT burned my life forever
A.I. Colombia, South America
I was only 17 years old in 2001 when ECT destroyed my life. Five sessions of ECT were enough to mess up my memory. At least 2 years of memories were completely or partially erased and never came back.
That was not the only side effect of ECT as I also became emotionally blunt forever, incapable of experiencing pleasure in the same way I could before. The simple things in life such as watching a sunset or sunrise, having a milkshake with a loved one, listening to a great song I liked... and many more things... I never could experience such things again. It’s like ECT burned my soul forever.
It was so devastating that I could not go to college and was never able to graduate from a professional career due to difficulties with concentration and memory. Today I have a job but I am often “discriminated” against and not paid enough because I’m not a “professional” and I don’t have a degree. Of course, it also ruined my social relations and I never trusted my family again. I was never mentally ill to begin with, but since my mom and I didn’t get along she thought I needed therapy and ended up asking my uncle (her brother) to take me to a psychiatric clinic. Two days after I was hospitalized I was given ECT. I was not sick in any way, I was a healthy person with a whole future ahead of me. I have been told by another psychiatrist that ECT is used as a last resort so why was I given ECT so quickly? I felt it was an opportunity for the doctor to make money. at the expense of my sanity. I live in Colombia, South America and am setting up a facebook group for people like me who are suffering from the effects of ECT.
I lost 50 IQ points. I had to relearn how to tie my shoelaces.
Kenny Fleischman Michigan, USA
I was a high school honor student who lost all memories of childhood and high school after I was given 30 rounds of ECT in 2009/10 when I was 21. I didn't even know how to tie my own shoelaces. ECT left me with a heart arrhythmia and severe headaches which lasted a year-and-a-half. Neurological testing showed that I lost 50 IQ points.
I was 14 when I was put on an antidepressant because of a difficult family situation but the antidepressant made me feel worse. As more meds were added, my symptoms got even worse, and eventually I was on a cocktail of 6 different psychiatric drugs – Depakote, Lithium, Trazodone, Klonopin, Hydroxyzine (vistaril) and one more. I was then considered treatment resistant and in need of electroshock. I still have nightmares about ECT.https://www.huffpost.com/entry/shock-therapy-whos-getting-rich-and-whos-getting_b_57a2466fe4b0456cb7e14eb5
I took my own life
(Edited from a one-week email exchange) I am shaking in fear and terror. I am absolutely crushed. I was just subjected to 11 rounds of ECT in three weeks. I'm a young mom with postpartum mood disorder. My memory and cognitive function are destroyed. I have a 1.5-year-old. I was hospitalized a second time after trying to get off of medication. The doctor said I was catatonic, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't, and recommended ECT. They were very convincing and I just wanted to get released to outpatient to be with my daughter and my family encouraged me so I consented. I feel violated like this was the wrong decision and I wasn't given adequate information for consent.
My doctor abandoned me when I confronted him and my family does not understand that psych meds can cause the symptoms. They keep saying it's me not accepting my mental illness. My family has no compassion for me. My husband is abusive and has threatened to divorce me and take our daughter. My mom has blocked my phone calls. They think I need to get back on meds and continue shock therapy. Did your loved ones ever get you hospitalized when you felt you did not need it? Did they encourage ECT to you? I can't forgive them. I couldn't sleep last night. I just look at my daughter and cry. I'm trapped in a nightmare. I would rather die.
I cannot remember lyrics to songs, cannot remember chronological order of events, cannot remember conversations I've had recently, cannot recognize names or faces of people I've just met or seen, don't recognize some houses on my street, don't remember what I had for breakfast lunch and dinner, don't remember past weekdays, can't do math in my head, don't remember names of people in old TV shows I used to watch. I'm sure there is more I'm so afraid and overwhelmed every day I discover something new is missing.
I had neuropsych testing today and the results confirmed memory and cognitive impairment: brain damage. I am sorry to beg like this I just need to talk with someone who has been through this and understands, so alone. I was trying to start a medical malpractice case involving ECT and what my father believes was drug-induced catatonia.
I am Truth. I lost 27 IQ points and 15-20 years of memory. I almost lost my life.
Truth, Saskatchewan, Canada
I was a happy, healthy 54- year-old woman who had raised three gorgeous children and spent 31 years teaching senior English and math. I was bubbly, outgoing, multi-tasking, and loved life. Unfortunately I went through a divorce. I developed insomnia and lost weight. My doctor prescribed Effexor and left me on it for 12 years. If I missed a dose I had brain zaps and started to cry. I did not realize these were withdrawal effects and thought I needed the drug.
Once, when i missed two Effexor doses I felt fear, dread, weirdness, and head pressure. Reinstating Effexor did not help. In a panic, I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed Lorazepam, Zopiclone, Mirtazapine, and Seroquel. I deteriorated rapidly and was then given Valproic acid, Lithium, Cipralex, Klonopin, and Lamictal. I became more agitated – it was akathisia which I did not then know about. When I told my doctor how much pain and pressure there was in my head, I was labeled with agitated depression, treatment resistant depression, and bipolar disorder. I was given 28 rTMS which caused more agitation and panic.
My doctor misrepresented ECT. I had 21 of them, 10 in 4 weeks; then 11, 7 months later. The doctor was angry I was not “responding”. I kept going with ECT. 14 of the 21 were bilaterals. I ended up losing 15-20 years of memories, 27 IQ points, and the ability to think, recall or make and keep new memories. It destroyed my personality, made me apathetic, and suicidal.
I have since attempted to take my life 3 times. I was on life support last summer. I have been traumatized beyond comprehension. I feel ECT is evil, an assault and a human rights violation and that it must be banned. Truth.
Claire was 3 days old when I was shocked.
Mary Maddock, Cork, Ireland
I had an extreme adverse reaction to the nitrous oxide administered during my daughter's birth. I was considered psychotic and taken to a psychiatric hospital where I was given drugs and electroshock. I was seen as a mental case. However, years later, I had the same reaction when I was given gas during a tooth extraction. I was on psychiatric drugs for 20 years and received 16 shocks. My 'mental illness' was created by the experts. I followed their advice to the letter, and took my prescribed “medication” every day. If I didn't, I was told I would have to spend a lot of time in hospital away from my family. I had no choice.
ECT erased my memory. I don't remember Claire’s birth. I was hospitalized for weeks and chemically lobotomized. I wasn't aware of what was going on with me at all. I don't even remember having ECT. My husband and I adopted Sheena our second daughter. I decided to become drug-free when I realized my drug cocktail was toxic to my system. Coincidentally and conveniently, my psychiatrist died at the same time. When I became drug-free, my spirit came back. I have been away from psychiatry for many years. My husband and I have written a book 'Soul Survivor' and I am on the board of MindFreedom Ireland and MindFreedom International.http://cepuk.org/recovery-stories/
I am Iatrogenic Insanity. I am Amnesia.
I was not depressed. I had cold-turkeyed from a benzodiazepine taken at a time of great stress. No one recognized the withdrawal syndrome. A psychiatrist diagnosed my shakiness and insomnia as agitated depression. Within a few months he prescribed at least 20 of the more than 30 different pharmaceuticals I was given. He allowed for no wash-outs. My agitation increased and his psychiatric labels increased. No one recognized akathisia. I was given sleeping pills three times a day and once at night to control my non-stop movements and vocalizations.
I was told I had dementia and psychotic depression. I was hospitalized for 10 weeks and forced to have 25 rounds of bilateral ECT. All of the drugging and ECT took place during 8 months in 2003/4. ECT turned me into a shaking zombie. I was told I would require drugs for the rest of my life and weekly maintenance ECT for the rest of my life. I could not allow my brain to be further destroyed. I tapered off all drugs. It was hell. I didn't go back for ECT. I was threatened that I would deteriorate.
The results of ECT: 25 years of my life are totally missing. Gone. Blank. I can't make new memories. I have cognitive deficits. My legs tremor and my heart rate is erratic. My ECT-induced parkinsonism is gone – even my face used to quiver. Vision in my right eye became clouded after an ECT session and remains clouded. My broken teeth and dental restorations are still being repaired – my husband used to wipe blood from the corners of my mouth after ECT 'treatments'. I still can't breathe properly and I can't run. I had frequent spontaneous seizures for years. I once had a fine mind, a photographic memory and I multi-tasked with ease. Now I have a wall covered with stick-it note reminders. Every day is an ordeal. If I met any of my doctors on the street I would not recognize them. They stole my memory.