So I finally finished the book on ECT’s history and also Kitty Dukakis’ biographical account of her experience with depression. The book was informative, although I did my own research before and I found out all the information I already read. I didn’t know they used comas to treat mental illness though. She was an alcoholic and a drug addict. She was addicted to Dexedrine, a drug I have been prescribed in the past to deal with my low energy. It didn’t work. It made me paranoid and nervous so it gave me energy but not in a good way. Dexedrine is an amphetamine and used for treatment for ADD and ADHD. Kitty stole her’s at first from her mom as it used to be used as a diet pill and it can become very addictive, like any amphetamine. Kitty also turned to alcohol to cover up or deal with the depression. Personally, I haven’t had too much of a problem with either as I don’t get that high off either but medications like Ativan and sleeping pills seem to distract me from real life.
Also like me, she had anti-depressants work well and then stop working. It happened to me twice first with prozac ( after trying a bunch of others) and with Cymbalta. Since a journalist wrote the novel, they included a chapter on the side effects and issues with ECT. This chapter scared me. I have had memory loss. I don’t notice the memories lost though, I only seem to notice them when people bring up a certain dinner or a certain event. They come back to me (sort of) and this was just recent memories and at random in the past year. The weird part is I don’t exactly remember the past summer when I studying French in Ottawa vividly (I took plenty of pictures though…also we drank a lot…) but my French has improved significantly. I think that it’s actually better after my treatment than when I struggling with it before. So I am pretty sure the language part of my brain was nicely stimulated and the neuron growth happened there. I also was still a self-sabotager and convinced myself I was stupid then. Depression has decreased my ability to learn, especially when I am feeling extra down, as my depression can vary week to week. I don’t care about forgetting about some random dinner and what I will try to keep a journal this time. I think, and this is just guessing, that quite a few people that have spoken about their experience with ECT are quite a bit older and the younger people (in their 20’s) seem to bounce back and return to studying/working without too much memory loss. It could be the young supple brain is better at healing properly. There is also the new theory that depression cause neuron death and that the longer you are depressed, the more neurons that die thus getting back to normal activity and neuron generation takes more time and treatments. This also explains the fact that for some who have waited a long time (I am guessing 10 year to a lifetime) seem to need more ECTs and respond much slower and less positively. It doesn’t explain how the jolts can almost instantaneously get people out of catatonia and severe delusions (when someone is completely out of touch with reality). When do scientists care how it works? CAUSE THAT’S SCIENCE. Well actually so treatments can be fine tuned and hopefully done without even causing the seizure or putting anyone under anesthetic which would be aweesooooomeeeee!!!! Being put under is the scariest part for me…but after having it done 7 times I am not as afraid. I wish myself luck this Friday!