Thursday, May 13, 2021

Comments by wonnell

Showing 4 of 4 comments.

  • Thanks for the response Steve.

    So, I’ve read through the comments a couple times….I can’t find where there was an actual claim made that “no one has proven that ECT does damage to the brain”. In your words: “But I can’t allow the claim that no one has proven that ECT does damage to the brain stand”. I just asked for some evidence because an initial claim was made in the article (which, on the whole, was excellent). It appears you assumed I was making a claim when I just asked for evidence of ECT damaging the brain. That’s important to distinguish. And if that evidence is all over the place, it should be pretty easy to come up with. Evidence, scientific evidence, that I’m speaking about here does not include storytelling; it means statistics. Additionally, seizures are often not dangerous at all (Obviously, I’m not saying that all seizures are safe, either). From Epilepsy Foundation: “Most seizures end on their own and don’t cause serious problems”.

    https://www.epilepsy.com/start-here/about-epilepsy-basics/how-serious-are-seizures#:~:text=Most%20seizures%20end%20on%20their,than%20for%20people%20without%20epilepsy.

    I bring up these non-ECT seizures because you repeatedly invoke them (seizures) to make the point of their danger and damage, including during ECT.

    Thank you for the link to the Nature letter to the editor. It’s not an actual peer reviewed journal article, though, it’s a letter someone wrote. So, not the same as an article actually published in Nature. Also, it was published 20 years ago. I received treatment 5 years ago. Protocols change over time. There are no doubt very scary cases of lobotomy and electroshock decades ago that severely damaged humans. I’m not speaking about that type of ‘therapy’ (it wasn’t); I’m pointing towards the current-day use of ECT.

    All in all, the letter is still very important to read through.

    From the letter: “This ‘cure’ for depression requires this procedure to be repeated 10–20 times over a week or so”. I received 3 treatments a week, for 2 weeks. So, a total of 6 treatments. As I said, I responded very well to the treatment, and didn’t need any maintenance sessions, as some do. The letter greatly exaggerates the frequency of treatment, in my case by upwards of 600%.

    From the letter: “And when you talk to a friend who has been so treated and discover that a year later she is still experiencing huge gaps in recall of major life events, you begin to worry.” Memory loss is a potential side effect of the treatment. It definitely happens to some people. It did not happen to me. I remember very clearly major life events, including those surrounding the treatment.

    From the letter: “Finally you discover that ECT’s benefit is only temporary, so that many psychiatrists administer it chronically”. While it’s true that some individuals have to go back for maintenance therapy, many only need the minimum of 6 – 12 sessions. I received 6 total, and that’s it. For me, the benefit has lasted 5 years.

    I read through the second article that you linked. Here’s it’s purpose: “To explore the relation between seizure-related variables and cognitive change in patients with severe intractable epilepsy”. Any conclusions about damage to the brain refer to epileptic seizures, not those induced by ECT. Are you saying that seizures in epilepsy are the same as seizures during ECT?

    Here’s some baseline data and information on the safety and mechanisms of ECT from a similar organizational body from which you provided evidence: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538266/

    You can get to the point by reading the first and last paragraphs, there’s also some detail about all the risk factors – as with any treatment undergoing anesthesia – and potential therapeutic pathways.

    A shorter, easier read:
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-truth-about-shock-therapy/
    It’s clear here that ECT isn’t risk-free, obviously, but that it’s dangers are largely overstated.

    Let me know what you think!!

  • Thanks JanCarol for commenting. So no, the crisis was not exacerbated by those drugs. I wasn’t on any prescribed medication at the time. Those drugs were given to me during inpatient therapy after the crisis, at the same time I was given ECT, by request. I was suicidal and desperate for anything that would work. ECT was the spark to reset my brain. In no way did it mellow anything out; quite the opposite, it reawakened me.

    I was very fortunate in that I was on those drugs for a relatively short period of time. I weened off them all in a span of 8 months, one drug at a time. They were replaced with sleep, exercise, MBCT, nutrition, and social relationships. I was also very lucky to have a supportive family.

    You make an excellent point about emotional regulation. At the end of the day, I had the goal to be medication free because I wanted to know that it was all “me”. A daily meditation practice is huge in this regard. There is still some importance for the neurobiology of the brain, though, and ECT really helped me in that regard because it precipitated the first solid sleep immediately after my first session that I had in months. It gave me hope and confidence that my brain was not permanently damaged from my prior behavior. So, the story of ECT in my life is that it saved my life.

    Learning how to emotionally regulate from a young age would do so much to mitigate against destructive mental health issues around the world.

  • I’m sorry you have, what seems like, some anger towards ECT as a therapy itself. The word “seizure” seems to hold particular weight for you as well. Especially in medicine, it’s important to note evidence. Why was that a problem for you?

    No one should be forced to undergo ECT. That should be the discretion of the individual, upon “prescription”.

    In fact, ECT saved my own life. It gave my brain the reset it needed during a mental health crisis. I have felt absolutely zero damage from ECT on my own brain; it actually gave me the first initial domino – the ability to sleep – from which other brain and life changes occurred for me. My brain is currently as healthy as it’s ever been, and ECT played a significant role in that, among many other therapies like CBT, exercise, mindfulness, nutrition, sleep, and social relationships.

    Here’s a link to more information about ECT: https://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/psychiatry/electroconvulsive-therapy-ect.html

    As with any treatment, there can be negative side effects. However, the simple request for neurobiological evidence of how ECT damages one’s brain still remains. The article was excellent, but I found the blanket statement that “ECT, even without interacting with other medications, damages the brain” to be a rather incomplete statement. I was on 5 medications (Zoloft, Risperdal, Ativan, Trazodone, and Melatonin) when I received 6 treatments of ECT. That was the beginning of my brain’s way of healing.