I’m trying to help explain, “Why temporary memory loss in ECT versus loss of memories prior to ECT?” It is “friendly” to understand our treatment options and dispel stigma, starting with “Me.” Please let me know if this effort is helpful in any way.
Community opinion of ECT, largely influenced by the media rather than data, has a very hard time believing that the memory loss is of new memories, (or imprinting memory, ) during the course of the index trial; not memories before ECT, not memories after the index trial is done, not memories when maintenance ECT is going on.
The best way I can explain this, (and this is my own Dr. Q effort,) is that the memory loss is related to mechanical issues, like a cork in a bottle. Think of a rain gauge, for example. After it rains, we see on the gauge that it rained 2.3 inches last night. We uncork it at the bottom, and all the rain water flows out until the rain gauge is empty. We let the water out. The rain gauge may fill again when it is recorked.
The electrical stimulus and subsequent seizure to a brain cell is like the process of uncorking the rain gauge. The natural process of the brain is to “recork” after a stimulus, be the stimulus pressure, magnetic, chemical, or in this case, electrical, and let the cell fill back up each time it happens. The recorking process happens all the time in our brain, (in vitro,) after natural stimuli act upon a cell, be those natural stimuli pressure, magnetic, chemical, electrical, or another.
ECT is a medical therapy that uses the basic recovery methods of our own physical design and perhaps, this is one of the reasons it is so effective.
Unless the cell has that inside content, it cannot lay down new memories. The stimulus and stimulus response does not damage the cell. They empty it. The response is mechanical.
This idea also works to help understand why the memory loss is most often temporary rather than long-term. The cells replenish between treatments. It is a cumulative effect, so the closer the treatments are, the more the degree of memory loss. As the time between treatments increases, the recovery time is so brief, that the patient doesn’t notice memory loss. The patient is able to imprint memories without difficulty. The rain gauge, we could say, has its cork in for longer periods of time.
Question: Have your choices toward treatment ever changed based on dispelling your own stigma? Has information and greater understanding of your treatment options ever specifically improved your self-care? Please tell us your story.
Self-Care Tip: Use information and greater understanding of your treatment options to improve your self-care. Keep on.