Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)?

I first became aware that my now 25-year old daughter had developed a schizophrenia spectrum disorder in the spring of 2020. Her symptoms, which include delusions and auditory hallucinations, have become more severe over time. At this point, she is extremely out-of-touch with reality and very much a danger to herself.

Now she is in a behavioral health hospital where she has been given medication for the first time, but it is not making a difference. Her psychiatrist wants to try electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). I know she desperately needs treatment. But the idea of ECT scares me.

Has anyone had any experience, positive or negative, with ECT?

ECT was never brought up as a suggested treatment any of the 5 times my daughter was in the hospital. She did change medicines several times, however. The medicine that worked was the 3rd and 5th medicine tried. The other 3 did not do much for her. I am not sure, if this is your daughter’s first medicine, why a medicine change is not being tried before ECT is suggested.

If you enter ECT and gssp into the search box on the upper right, you will find threads regarding a family and their experience with ECT.

@selma I have read about this therapy and it’s not done like it was back in the 70’s—now they will knock you out for 10-15 minutes to do the ECT. I have read all good things about those who have had it done. I’m trying to find a doctor in our area that I can take him to. We will definitely have this provided that we find a SZ doctor who will do it. Best of luck to you. I will pray for you and your family. :heart:

It was not suggested for my son, who’s been battling schizophrenia for for about 6 years. Olanzapine and quetiapine have worked for him, but they have metabolic effects and I worry about dopamine supersensitivity.

Has your daughter tried clozapine yet? I’ve read that it sometimes works when other drugs have failed. Since it can have rare, but very serious, side effects her doctor has to be licensed to prescribe it.

From what I understand ECT is typically reserved for treatment resistant depression rather than for Schizophrenia/ Schizoaffective disorder.
If it has only been a few days since your daughter started medication it seems too soon to decide that the medication isn’t effective. Many medications take time- even weeks to months before symptoms are relieved. Hospitals don’t usually keep patients long enough. Do you know which medications your daughter has tried?

My sister in law who has been ill for about 12 years only got ECT once and it was to bring her out of a prolonged catatonic state. I don’t know much about how it’s otherwise used but for her it was very effective and she was better than she had been for a very long time after the treatments. She never went catatonic again so to my knowledge it was never used as a treatment again.

I wanted to thank all of you for your comments. It helps not to feel so alone with all of this. Actually, my daughter has had 4 ECT treatments so far (they plan to give her a total of 6 while she is an inpatient - possibly more as an outpatient). There have been no negative effects, and we are definitely seeing a noticeable improvement. It’s too early to tell how much improvement or what will happen when the treatments stop, but it is giving us hope. She herself says that she is enjoying the treatments - that they are helping to take away her pain and giving her mental clarity.

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Thanks so much for the update and how wonderful to hear good news. :dizzy:

GSSP and his daughter had good results as well, his daughter was med resistant - just like her mother.

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The ECT recommendation likely comes from the differing severity of her illness. I.e If she has destabilized and show frequent catatonia, often ECT works better (so I’ve heard) than some Psyche meds, with fewer side effects.

It’s rare to be mentioned because of the public outcry against it but treatment resistive varieties of Mania, and Bipolar Disorder/Depression can be effective. It’s also used in cases of C-PTSD,SZ, and BP I with Schizo affective symptoms, to some effect. A family member suffered from treatment resistant PTSD (back before we understood PTSD has very little to do with the Serotonin uptake, and therefore cannot be treated with antidepressants.) and has lived with one sessions every 4 to sometimes 6 months with very little side effects after having tried everything else.

Again, mostly as a hail Mary but also because the variety of symptoms (as in frequency and type of delusions, especially an inability to speak in full sentences or in an actual language) doesn’t tend to be well managed with anything but ECT and/or chlorpromazine with SZ. My brother never tried it (and after everything else he refused, I would not have the energy to convince him to) thus, my experience is only anecdotal.