"Ten years ago I would have to broach ECT with patients," says Corey Greenwald, MD, a psychiatrist in Atlanta who performs many ECT procedures per year. "Today people are broaching it with me."
Feeling a "gradual lifting"
Some patients who have tried ECT say they are proof that the studies are not a fluke. Jim Hawkins, 78, of Rockville, Maryland, saw a number of psychiatrists for his crippling depression but remained in such despair he elected to have ECT. "It saved my life. I had 12 treatmentsthree times a week, four weeks total. After the 12th, I woke up the next day and the was sun shining. It felt good. Suddenly I felt like I was over the depression."
Kathleen Brannon, 48, found the experience frightening, especially the short-term memory loss. "They completely knock you out and paralyze your muscles, so contractions don't break bones and stuff. It's not a small thingit's a very intimidating and frightening process, especially at first. The first few times, it's very scary because when you wake up, you don't know your name, where you are, your family. It's like your mind has been erased. And that lasts for a while, up to a day before it starts gradually coming back to you."