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J ECT. 2000 Jun;16(2):133-43.

Electroconvulsive therapy and memory loss: a personal journey.


The cause for the significant gap between research and anecdotal evidence regarding the extent of some memory loss after electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has never been adequately explained. A patient's development of awareness and self-education about her severe side effects from ECT raises questions regarding many current assumptions about memory loss. ECT-specific studies, which conclude that side effects are short term and narrow in scope, have serious limitations, including the fact that they do not take into account broader scientific knowledge about memory function. Because of the potential for devastating and permanent memory loss with ECT, informed consent needs significant enhancement until advancing research on both improved techniques and on better predictive knowledge regarding memory loss progresses to making a greater impact on clinical applications. Follow-up care and education in coping skills need to be a regular part of ECT practice when patients do experience severe effects.

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