Does anyone have any experience of ECT treatment for depression?


Registered User
Oct 15, 2007
Hi, my mother is 64 with advanced early onset dementia. She is still living at home but we have carers in from 8am till 9pm to help my father. Although suffering enormously with dementia, she is also very depressed and on days will be low all day with hardly a smile. She has tried many anti depressants which i feel just don't work. She has just come off prozac and started on amitryptiline (not sure of spelling) but i don't see any improvement. The doctors are now talking about electric shock treatment to her brain as an option. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience of this. It can make you very confused after treatment but she is so confused anyway, i'm wondering if it could be worse? Does anyone have any advice on this subject as it sounds quite horrific to me...... Thank you.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
I have never heard of ECT treatment in someone with Alzheimers.

Years ago, one of the parents in my nursery lost a child and had ECT treatment to try to help her through her very deep depression. I suppose it did help in some respects, but although ECT is known for affecting memory, it certainly didn`t erase the death of her son from her memory.

I would ask as many questions as you can think of, before consenting to this treatment.

I know a general anaesthetic is not consiered adviseable for someone with Alzheimers, so I would ask about after effects on the Alzheimers, as well as the depression.
I would also ask if they know where it has been treated successfully in someone with similar conditions.

Deep depression is a dreadful condition to live with, but this seems quite drastic action and is the first time I have heard of it on Talking Point [TP].

Nevertheless, I would expect the doctors to know what they are talking about.


Registered User
Jun 7, 2005
Hi there

I care for mum alone - she has quite advanced AD along with other

During her lifetime she has suffered with mental health problems and depression and was given a course of ECT for this..

Although that was many years ago and things may have changed i do not think from what i can remember that it had any impact on her.

It was in my opinion a very barbaric form of treatment. I was talking to my sister yesterday about days gone by and this subject was brought up. We are both of the same opinion that we would never put anyone through that. After each of the treatments she resembled somebody that had had a stroke.

However as I said earlier things have moved on and it may be different now. You would need to discuss this with the consultant. The above is only an opinion formed from our experience.

Hope you can get your mum sorted soon. Dementia of any kind is bad enough with being depressed as well. Good Luck Casselle


Registered User
Nov 16, 2007
East Midlands
Hello VIB35,

I'm with Grannie G on that one!

I have a friend who had ECT for extreme depression following the death of her husband in the 1990's.

All I can say is that she still suffers with depression,still needs medication...and has almost total memory loss from the time before she had the treatment.

As part of my nurse training I watched a few patients having is not something to be undertaken lightly..

I'm no expert when it comes to Alzheimers..which is enough in itself to cause depression.

If I was in your situation I'd be asking about the effects of the treatment..the risk to life..and what possible benefit it will Grannie G does seem a drastic step..

My own feeling...(not medically sound..) is that it could well make the Alzheimers far worse very quickly..and your dad is the one who will have to live this.

Discuss it very seriously with the doctors.

Love gigi xx


Registered User
Jan 4, 2008
east sussex

Like Gigi i was also present when this treatment was given.
It was back in the 60ties when i was working in a psychiatric hospital. The treatment to me looked unpleasant and i would not like to undergo it. Also i believe that symptoms of dementia mock depression the first signs my husband showed before diagnosis were taken as depression.



Registered User
Nov 16, 2007
East Midlands
. Also i believe that symptoms of dementia mock depression the first signs my husband showed before diagnosis were taken as depression.
Cyn, Sylvia..

I could say the same..Eric was being treated for severe depression when I first met him..14 years ago..

He remains on medication for depression..

Have tried to "wean" him off them..but he doesn't sleep and becomes agitated..

So we stick with it..

Love gigi xx

dedicated doe

Registered User
Aug 24, 2007
wirral merseyside
Ect Treatment

HI,Regarding the ECT i myself underwent this treatment twice about 10years ago for severe depression,although i was alittle disorientated for a few huors after it did not have any dramatic effects on my depression,even after all these years i am still on medication with 4 monthly hospital appointments,but i cope with it as i now have others who need me more re.Dave and the kids,i just try to manage the bad spells i have and keep busy. Thanks for listening God Bless DOE.


Registered User
May 14, 2006
My younger sister suffered from manic depression (bipolar disorder, as they seem to call it now). Many treatments had been tried, ultimately with no success. When left with ECT being the only possible alternative, my sister took her own life, rather than face this, or the continuing illness.

Obviously, the decision to undergo this treatment cannot be taken lightly. To take this decision for someone else, well, as we are continually advised, "What would the person have wanted?" I must say that I am surprised that this treatment has been suggested for someone with AD.

Sorry I cannot offer any advice, only what experience I have had of ECT.

Best wishes.


Registered User
Feb 20, 2008
West Yorkshire
Dear Vib35
I cannot advise you what to do for the best. I think you need to be completely reassured that CT is going to be effective for your mother. Dementia does cause depression, but sufferers cannot fully explain or communicate their feelings. I know my dad is depressed, he is in an advanced stage of vascular dementia. He is being treated with anti-depressants. I can only tell you about my dads experience with ECT. Shortly after Dads breakdown and subsequent diagnosis of vas d. The doctors were really struggling to control very severe psychotic symptoms, like hallucinations and paranoid beliefs. They seemed to have tried everything. Anti-psychotic drugs can be very dangerous indeed and my dad was sensitive to them. So there were few options open to him. They suggested ECT because they felt it might help him. Cynically, I could have said that they couldn't think of anything else to do. We were properly counselled before treatment. It was effective in that his symptoms were less severe, but they didn't go completely. There were concerns that Dad would be more confused after treatment and would suffer problems with memory and this did happen.
It does sound horrific, but it is carried out under anaesthetic. Also my grandmother's depression was treated with ECT along time ago now, and this apparently was successful, but she didn't have dementia.
Just make sure you have asked all the questions you can possibly think of and make sure you have time to consider everything fully.
My dads situation was so bad, there wasn't any alternative, they had been tried. Look at all the options.
take care

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
This is such a difficult situation. The concerns that I see are that general anesthetics can make someone with AD decline precipitiously and ECT can cause memory loss. The possibilities of what can happen with the two together can be frightening.

I have a dear friend who has had quite a few treatments for severe depression. She was considered suicidal and nothing else had worked.

Is your mother suicidal? Why are the doctors talking about ECT? Sometimes a condition can become a challenge to doctors & they stop seeing the person and only see the condition.

Ultimately you and your family make the choice. I would inform myself as much as possible before making any decision. It isn't a decision that has to be made rapidly so you do have time.

Take care,

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