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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.