Guest Post – Does anyone have any experience with techniques or treatments that help to regain memory loss and concentration problems, … that were caused by ECT treatments?

Does anyone have any experience with techniques or treatments that help to regain memory loss and concentration problems, … that were caused by ECT treatments? I am addressing the long term results, not the temporary loss folding the first weeks of treatment.  I recently read about an oxygen rich chamber that helped people with neurological problems after trauma. Improved memory function was one of the functions that that the chamber seemed to expedite.


I certainly empathize with you as I am undergoing ECT at this time and have been August of 2010. It’s impossible to share the result of an experience like we’ve had and while I don’t want to say our memory loss is the same, suffice to say we’re both suffering from it. Especially the day of treatment I have difficulty recalling where I worked, my phone number, and even my address! I’m hoping these will be temporary.

Addressing your question I talked, once again, to the physicians and professors that treat me. They shared with me some basics (which I’m sure you also heard but worth repeating in sum)…

  • While the mechanism of action of ECT is not known, they do know that the brain damage, brain trauma, and similar theories likely false.
    • They recounted to me a dissection done on a 70+ year old man who had received several hundred ECT treatments and showed no abnormalities
    • They also reported no vascular deltas between a healthy brain and the brain of someone who has received ECT
  • While there are no studies on the overall ECT population with regards to memory returning, the physicians and professors reported the majority of their patients had their recall of recent events improve once stopping ECT. Recall of ‘forgotten’ events (someone’s birthday, etc) is more difficult to quantify in the patient population, per their opinion.

Personally cannot get to the core of your question as I am still receiving ECT… and at the same time I received [yet another] nearly unanimous affirmation that short-term memory recall and most ‘forgotten’ memories return after treatments have ceased.

In asking them about what other options there might be for someone with memory loss from ECT, I asked about the hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). They had not heard of using HBOT for memory loss in their population as HBOT is generally used for brain trauma and vascular restriction. One thing they did make clear is that HBOT would not be covered by insurance as there is no correlation yet established between ECT induced memory loss and HBOT. I have to admit, that in my searching on the Internet I couldn’t immediately find any journal articles referring to such a study, even anecdotally.

The two situations in which I found online that HBOT helps in are physical, and while the mechanism of action of ECT is not known, at least the physicians report having evidence its not physical. I’d be concerned about the cost of the treatment in relation to the benefit received. If money and time are no issue, it certainly couldn’t hurt to try.

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4 thoughts on “Guest Post – Does anyone have any experience with techniques or treatments that help to regain memory loss and concentration problems, … that were caused by ECT treatments?

  1. I had ECT almost 5 years ago and often question if my loss of concentration and recall is related to the ECT or to the drugs or just the bipolar – it seems to be a question without a complete and satisfactory answer

  2. I’m sure it’s from the combination Rod.
    Personal experience with meds for BP the past 12 years as well as lots of research on ECT also.

    I’ve also gotten so desperate with depression is why I did my research. And since I had a serious Traumatic Brain Injury 37 years ago I’m not at all fond of the idea of hurting my brain through electric trauma.

  3. I am assumming that this ECT terminology refers to what I grew up as a child calling Electro Shock Therapy, or Shock Treatments. If I am wrong, please correct me. I have never had them myself, but what do you know, maybe it couldn’t hurt. But, as a young teenager in 1969, to go to St Joseph’s Hospital in Fort Worth to visit my mom and have her not know who me and my brother were for weeks–seemed like forever to us–was very devastating to say the least, and if you suffer from feelings of not being loved–just look you mom in the eye and see that blank look of who are you and things will not soon improve in that respect.
    I am sure that these treatments have improved in their application, finese, lack of side effects in todays world and our modern technology. I sure hope they have anyway.
    The only other thing I would have to offer is the following link to a little bit of flash fiction I wrote a while back to flush some of my childhood feelings on these things from my mental system. It was my way of facing the past, and apologizing to my mom for the terrible way I treated, though she is now gone.

  4. Yes – ECT (ElectroConvulsive Therapy) is the new name for “ElectroShock Therapy”. What it sounds like your mother experienced was awful side effects of, no longer used, sine-wave stimuli. Now they use ‘brief pulse’ which reportedly has far fewer side effects.

    Same treatment but really refined now. They used to do it while the person was conscious! Now they put me to sleep under anesthesia, then use a paralytic to keep me from moving. The paralytic stops me from hurting myself during the seizure. Then while asleep and paralyzed they apply the stimulus and I seize for about one minute. Then, I wake up and go from there…

    I personally don’t feel this is trauma… everything I can find, right down to stainig brain tissue, shows changes I neurotransmitters… and the University dissections confirm no physical traumas. But that is my take on a very serious topic which has strong advocates and detractors.

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