What About ECT for Bipolar?

Jack Community Member April 17, 2008
  • My psychiatrist keeps raising two questions - 'have you ever taken Lithium' and 'have we talked about ECT?'. 

     

    So, I have tried to do some research on ECT and Bipolar.  Not much to read and nothing to tell me more than it probably wouldn't hurt.  I suppose the reason for the line of questioning is because of the distinct lack of progress over the last few months.  That he's trying to consider what else we can try that I haven't done for the last 15 years.  But I really want to know from anyone who's experienced ECT just what it did for them.  Yes it helped you, didn't help, made no difference, just what can it do for Bipolar depression.

     

    If I do make a decision for treatment, I want to be informed. 

2 Comments
  • sherrie l
    Apr. 18, 2008

    I've been diagnosed Bipolar II and the majority of my symptoms have been long severe depressive periods.  I have had ECT three times in the past (3 sessions of 8 treatments) and my experience has been that it helps boost you out of the depression for a couple weeks, maybe even months, but it isn't a long-term answer.  Some people do maintenance ECT...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I've been diagnosed Bipolar II and the majority of my symptoms have been long severe depressive periods.  I have had ECT three times in the past (3 sessions of 8 treatments) and my experience has been that it helps boost you out of the depression for a couple weeks, maybe even months, but it isn't a long-term answer.  Some people do maintenance ECT weekly for years but the more ECT you have the more difficulty with short-term and long-term memory, plus it is a large interruption in your life.  According to my pdoc, ECT in bipolar is not an effective treatment and can actually increase the likelihood of manic episodes and rapid cycling. 

     

    ECT is physically and emotionally draining, and although there have been great improvements in the process, there is memory loss and other neurologic changes associated with it.  I have difficulty with "word finding" and concentration as well as chunks of time I cannot remember.  For many people it can be a miracle cure for drug-resistant depression and other psychiatric conditions but I would only consider it as a last resort or do just what you're doing - research and ask others for their experiences before making a decision.

     

    Good Luck.

  • Anonymous
    ediesinc@gmail.com
    Apr. 18, 2008

    Hey Jack,

     

    ECT when it is found in bipolarism is usually associated with a deep depression that all the wonder drugs have been exhausted leaving it as a last ditch effort. It is not something to walk into lightly and even the success rate with the treatments is not a sure thing. Short-term memory loss is usually the biggest drawback you hear from patients...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Hey Jack,

     

    ECT when it is found in bipolarism is usually associated with a deep depression that all the wonder drugs have been exhausted leaving it as a last ditch effort. It is not something to walk into lightly and even the success rate with the treatments is not a sure thing. Short-term memory loss is usually the biggest drawback you hear from patients that have gone through it.

     

    Personally, even if I did not have that issue I would still play on it asking family members questions like “Who are you again?” or with the wife….”So you are saying you are my wife and not my girlfriend?” Do a search on depression and ECT because depression is depression even if you are bipolar.

     

    I would also try lithium before going the route of ECT. What pdoc’s are now finding is that the older tried and true medications actually work better than their new counterparts do on hard to treat depressions and manias. Good luck either way.