As many of my readers know, I am pursuing a degree in Psychiatry. I was lucky enough that a person with direct experience with this matter contacted me. Originally Katie contacted me, after reading my blog, offering me information on a research project. Unfortunately, the project was completed. However, I jumped at the opportunity to interview her. Katie has a story that should be told, and I am grateful to her for allowing this very personal interview. Thank you so much for your time and your words.
Katie is a “23-year-old, divorced mother to one son, and companion to one cat. ” Her diagnosis is Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder with associated severe- Depression. Katie was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder at the early age of 16 and then diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder with associated severe- Depression at the age of 21. Katie has undergone many treatments including Cognitive Therapies, Light Therapy, 5 Electro-Convulsive Treatments(ECT) to date, Medication, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
Katie contacted me regarding research I was doing on ECT and offered her help. I became more interested with her personal experience. She received her first ECT in early March of 2010 and underwent five treatments between March and April. Although, I am unsure of Katie’s location, she did inform me that her treatments “began while inpatient in a local hospital of psychiatry,” and was treated by “attending doctors, within the inpatient program.”
Now, Katie’s story can be told. She is a very strong woman and is a living survivor of her diseases. She is proof that there is still hope and that will the right medical care, life can move forward. Katie my hat is off to you. There are a 1000 words to a story, and it is never completely told. We can feel a small pinch of Katie’s life through my personal interview with her.
Was ECT a last resort treatment?
Yes. After at least 10 medications, it became gruel some and tedious, to wait for results that were unlikely to come.
Do you feel that ECT helped you?
Since middle of High School, I struggled with severe bouts of depression, emotional instability, and impulsive behavior
that became self destructive. As I got older, and left the pressure of High School, I thought I was going to get better
But I was wrong. Several medications and hospitalizations for self harm and suicide attempts would cloud my next 5 years.
During a spin of mania triggered by the death of my mother, I got married to a stranger, and tried to create a life that would
mask the pain I was feeling inside. Emotionally speaking, I was falling into a black hole, and no matter how many times I tried to
get help, nothing seemed to work. I left my husband after becoming pregnant, knowing I could no longer live a lie. During my
pregnancy, I was off medications and completely content and at peace. I credit the hormones from the pregnancy to balancing me out, for those 9 months were a glimpse of what it felt like to be “normal”. After the birth of my son, I was determined to make the best out of being a single mother. After a few months of struggling to find my identity as a new mother, the depression returned. I continued to be in and out of the hospital for self -harm thoughts and suicidal attempts. One day, sitting with a fellow patient, discussing our journeys with medication and treatments they told me about ECT’s and how its made it a little better for them. I then asked for information about them, and had my family look into it and bring me research and articles so that I may see if it is right for me. I approached my Dr about it, and explained how I wasn’t responding to any medications and they agreed after about two days of interviews and consultations.
Will you continue more ECT in the future and/or medications?
Yes. During the ECT’s I continued with my regular medication therapy. When I lost my insurance and couldn’t continue ECT maintenance or medications. In July 2010, I went off all my pills, to discover, a completely new feeling.
A productive, outgoing, new me. I was awake. I was a better mom. A better sister. A better friend. A better me. I was finally who I was supposed to me. I believe that the ECT treatment did help my mind make a adjustment in the way it functions, and when I stopped pumping my body full of chemicals, the ECT’s results finally shined through. I will begin monthly ongoing treatment next month.
What were the side effects of your ECT treatment (if any)?
During the course of the treatments from earlier this year, I had some short term memory blips. I call them blips because its bits and pieces that I don’t remember, or small moments of time that slip my mind. They continue today, but are definitely worth the relief I have felt. Physically the only side effect I suffered was a headache.
I don’t believe the ECT’s are a cure to depression or any mental illness, For me, however, accompanied with “talk therapy” and continued regular ECT’s, I have found hope.
For other that may be considering going through ECT, please realize it is not a cure, It is a therapy just like any other.
You must be committed. You must be patient. And you must understand the risks. Do your research before you decide what is best for you, and those who support you. The memory issue is real, and can be frustrating for those around you. But for me, it was a risk that needed to be made, to save my life.
Do you believe ECT is a sound way of treatment and do you agree with the process?
I believe it is definitely a more effective treatment for some, it is not a cure- all. And for a select few, it could mean life or death.
I believe Katie found me for a reason and contacted me. I knew her story needed to be told and I hope that after reading this, if you can connect with Katie; you should. Katie left a note for her readers:
To learn more about my experience or share yours with me, I may be contacted at email@example.com.
I have been feeling horrible for three weeks. It started with chest discomfort and I couldn’t really pinpoint it. The pain did get bad enough that I had to go to the doctor and I was put on a Z pack and Prednisone. Did nothing for me. Another week went by and I still felt horrible. I finally realized what was bothering me the most… breathing. It just hurts to pieces to breathe. I visited the doctor again and he did a physical and sent me to get a chest x-ray and schedule this pulmonary test. He also put me on an inhaler (yuck). I did the X-ray and went to the hospital three different times to get this other test done and the machine wasn’t working and blah blah. Point blank they kept rescheduling me. By the time the fourth appointment came around and was so sick to even get out of bed for more than five minutes so I definitely was NOT going to the doctor for another appointment. I stayed in bed. Here I am like three weeks later, I still haven’t heard back about my chest X-ray and have no idea what’s going on. I think I have just a really, really severe upper respiratory infection going on. Now it’s my neck, throat, nose, head, lungs, back, and chest. I feel awful. I think I have hit the worst end of it so far but it still sucks. So, be on the watch for the ickies floating around. Use hand sanitizer! Believe me you do not want this!
Today, sick as I am, I had to go and take a test for Statistics and then go listen to my Psych teacher go on about baseball for two hours. What a lecture that was! By the time I finally got home, I was like, eh… couch here I come! I made potato soup and sandwiches for supper and laid my butt on the couch for the rest of the evening. Now here I am laying in bed, unable to sleep. Great! Just what I need.
On the upside, Christmas break is almost here. The kids get out early from school tomorrow and my last day of class is Thursday. I will not be due back until January 10th, so I am excited to get a break! Tomorrow I will be finishing up my Christmas shopping. I can’t believe I still have shopping to do (a lot!). It has been hard to find the time to go and I live in such a small town that I have to travel to shop. No time at all for it! So tomorrow grandma will come over and watch the kids in the evening so that I can go out-of-town to shop. I hope I am feeling a little better by then. The kids are excited about Christmas and I think they are clueless as to what we have gotten them which makes for a great surprise. I cannot wait to see their faces! Once the holiday is over they will be traveling to see their other parents and I will get a break for about five days and in that time I am taking a mini vacation to Chicago. The man and I will have a little fun and then some R&R that is extremely overdue. He works nights and so now it seems impossible for me to sleep. I catch a few z’s from about four in the morning until the alarm beeps at me at six thirty. I am exhausted!
I do have some upcoming blog interviews with one that is very interesting. Make sure you catch it! Other than that, I am lying low. I am enjoying my holiday and I am just doing nothing.
The Endocrine Society released the “Differential Regulation of Plasma Obestatin and Ghrelin by Meal Intake and the Cholinergic System in Lean, But Not Obese Individuals. “ The journal entry focuses on a study conducted using random individuals, both lean and obese. The study was completed over four days with a total of sixteen participants (2 males and 6 females in each group). During the study, half were given Atropine and half were given a placebo. The objective was to find the regulation of obestatin release and obestation-to-ghrelin ratios by meal intake and the cholinergic system. In lean individuals, obestatin and ghrelin/obestatin ratios decreased considerably from base line by either atropine or meal intake. In obese subjects there were no significant differences. The obese subjects also showed greater association between ghrelin and obestatin values compared to the lean counterparts. Concluding the study they found that obestatin and ghrelin release is differentially regulated by meal intake and the cholinergic system in lean individuals and is impaired in obesity.
I am working on a research paper for my composition 2 class and had to pick a topic related to Health and Medicine. I stumbled around quite a few ideas and finally last night compiled an outline that I will turn in later today. I decided to write about electroconvulsive Therapy and if it works and is a legit practice. This is what I have come up with so far:
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
Is electroconvulsive therapy therapeutic for those who suffer from severe depression or mania?
1. A. What is electroconvulsive therapy? It is previously known as electroshock. It is a well established, yet controversial, psychiatric treatment which involves electrically induced seizures on anesthetized patients to result in a therapeutic result.
B. Who receives electroconvulsive therapy? Today it is most commonly used for the treatment of mania, catatonia, and severe major depression.
C. Electroconvulsive therapy was first introduced in the 1930’s. Use became more widespread between the 1940’s and 1950’s.
D. There is an estimated 1 million people undergoing electroconvulsive treatment each year.
E. ECT usually is administered by a course of 6-12 treatments, 2-3 times a week.
2. A. There are three forms of application. Each application has extreme differences, adverse side effects, and positive outcomes. The three different applications include electrode placement, frequency of treatments, and the electrical waveform of the stimulus.
B. Along with ECT, medication is usually continued afterward and some patients even have continued ECT treatment.
3. A. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2001 guidelines give the primary indications for ECT among patients with depression as a lack of response to, or intolerance of, antidepressant medications; a good response to previous ECT; and the need for a rapid and definitive response (e.g. because of Psychosis or a risk of suicide).
B. ECT is rarely used as a first-line treatment.
C. Informed consent is standard. Involuntary ECT is preformed uncommonly and is only done under extreme circumstances.
4. A. 2003 NICE ECT guidelines reported that the use of ECT in patients suffering for Schizophrenia is not recommended and it is supported by meta-analytic evidence with no or little verses placebo.
B. A follow-up study of New York ECT patients, 2004, showed that in 65 years of ECT use, remission rates were only 30 to 47 percent and 64 percent of those patients relapsed within six months. Only after removing patients with co-morbid personality disorders or those suffering from schizoaffective disorders from the analysis did the remission rates peak to 60 to 70 percent.
C. The UK ECT Review group published a systematic review and meta-analysis that compared ECT to placebo and antidepressant drugs, finding that there was a larger effect for ECT versus placebo and antidepressant drugs.
6. Effects on Memory
8. Public Perception
9. A. My goal for researching ECT is to develop a larger understanding of a procedure that is involved in the field I hope to work in someday. I am currently in school and hope to obtain my Psychiatry degree by the end of my schooling. Researching ECT will broaden my understanding of some of the practices that are involved in the line of work that I look forward to.
Let’s face it, we all feel out of focus at some point in our life. Our memory gets a little fuzzy and we run at a slower rate than we used to. Well, there is good news! According to cutting-edge research, there are 5 ways to supercharge your memory and maximize brainpower.
Over the next few weeks, we will discover all 5 ways to do just this!
1. Want to sharpen your focus? Enjoy some green tea! A study shows that those who drank something with green tea’s active ingredients, caffeine and L-theanine, 10 minutes before taking a test to check their ability to pay attention outscored those who drank water. How does it work? Caffeine has the power to perk us up and L-theanine allows our brains to have more relaxed alpha brain waves. The result is both satisfying and revolting. You will feel alert and calm all at once! So go on… recharge and sharpen your focus by downing a cup of green tea, your brain will thank you.
I can still remember back in 2005 when my doctor found my heart murmur at a regular check up. I was scared and knew very little about heart conditions. I was sent right away to the hospital to have an echocardiogram and ekg. I was then sent to Des Moines, Iowa to undergo stress tests and was put on a heart monitor to keep track of my heart rate and rhythms. It was all very scary to me. It is hard to understand Heart Conditions if you have never had one. I was relieved to finally know what was causing all of my symptoms I was having. I had no clue what was going on. In my experience, it is very hard to get a doctor to be frank. It just doesn’t seem to happen. They talk in circles and I am unable to understand half of it.
I have found a lot of helpful resources online over the last few years. To be honest, at times, they have been more helpful than talking to a doctor. Mayo Clinic is one that I visit often. It is very easy to navigate and find resourceful information about my condition. I was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse with left Ventricular hypertrophy. Big words, big scare, and equal side effects. It’s a nightmare sometimes. I found out from the May Clinic that
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) occurs when the valve between your heart’s left upper chamber (left atrium) and the left lower chamber (left ventricle) doesn’t close properly. When the left ventricle contracts, the valve’s flaps bulge (prolapse) upward or back into the atrium. Mitral (MIE-truhl) valve prolapse sometimes leads to blood leaking backward into the left atrium, a condition called mitral valve regurgitation.
A lot of it seemed confusing to me at first, but it didn’t take long to understand my condition and navigate through the Mayo Clinic to see the whole picture.
The Mayo Clinic states…
In most people, mitral valve prolapse isn’t life-threatening and doesn’t require treatment or changes in lifestyle. Some people with mitral valve prolapse, however, require treatment.
I, myself, have only been treated with Advil to control my heart rate. The doctors believe that I could use a beta blocker for my tachycardia, but it is ultimately up to me because sometimes the side effects of the medication can be worse than the effects of the actual disease. The beta blockers will lower my heart rate but also will lower my blood pressure which happens to drop already. A dangerous situation that I have decided to avoid for now.
Thanks to the Mayo Clinic online I have been able to better understand my disease. I use it for resource anytime I am feeling sick or experiences overwhelming side effects. It has been a great resource and I wanted to share it with anyone who has a heart condition or for other with diseases they do not understand.
If you have Mitral Valve Prolapse please visit the Mayo Clinic.