I was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and bipolar "tendencies" about 10 years ago. At that time I was not responding to any meds and I decided that I wanted to have ECT. I made my decision based on a book that I read that was written by a woman who had had great success with ECT. I know now that I didn't do enough research at the time to make an informed decision - but I was desperate and I thought that I had no other options. In May of 1996 I consulted a doctor about the whole process. It was just as described by Shannon. I too was told that I may have short term memory loss that wouldn't last. The doctor described a typical example as: "You may not be able to remember what you had for breakfast that morning." I decided to proceed and I had several regular treatments over the next seven or eight weeks. I did not respond to the treatments right away, and the doctor eventually stopped because he felt that continuing would not benefit me. Over the next two months I did eventually start to feel somewhat better, but I did not feel that the ECT did wonders for my depression.
Unfortunately, I experienced memory loss that was MUCH more significant than the doctor had described. I "lost" about 3 or 4 years of my memory (the years immediately preceding the ECT treatments) and it did not come back. A few of the things I have no memory of from that time period are:
1. all the people I had met for the first time during that time period
2. all the vacations I went on
3. all the movies I saw and all the books I read
4. a close friend's wedding - I had performed vocal solos at the church during the ceremony
5. another friend had been very pregnant with twins right before I had the ECT, and 6 months later I saw her with the babies and I asked her who she was babysitting for, I had no recollection of her pregnancy
It was embarrassing and frightening. I felt like I was going crazy. It's been 9 1/2 years and it still is quite blurry. My husband, family and friends have filled me in on so many things, and I have seen photos of the vacations and major social events, so I have pieced together most of it. But I still occasionally come across things from that time that I had totally forgotten.
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I know ECT has helped so many people with mental illness, but I think it is very important to investigate ALL the options before taking such extreme measures. Today there are so many medications available that were not in existence 10, 20, 30 and 40 years ago. I finally looked outside my local area for a psychiatrist with a more dynamic philosophy. You may want to look for a doctor who specializes in psychopharmacology. Good luck to you and your mother.