Woman can’t remember entire year of life after electro-therapy wipes her memory
Lisa received several courses of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) during a seven-year period at Bluestone mental health unit in Northern Ireland
A woman who received several courses of electroconvulsive therapy to treat her depression says she has no memory of a full year of her life.
Lisa Morrison moved from South Africa to Northern Ireland after she got married, and had her children there.
Childbirth triggered postnatal depression, she said, and she later relapsed on her eating disorder.
Lisa said this set off a “chain of events” in which she would spend many months of each year in a local inpatient mental health unit.
She added that she would receive several courses of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) during a seven-year period at Bluestone mental health unit, in the Southern Health Trust.
“It’s very difficult to talk about because I have very little memory of this period,” she said.
“There are huge gaps around things that I really should remember as a mum and I find that quite distressing.”
ECT has critics who typically reference a long-expressed body of anecdotal evidence from patients who have experienced negative side effects like severe memory loss and headaches.
However, the Royal College of Psychiatrists said ECT can be a “life-saving treatment” for patients suffering from conditions such as severe depression.
Speaking to BBCNews Northern Ireland, Lisa said she began seeing a psychiatrist in the years that followed, and is now receiving help to deal with untreated trauma.
Reflecting on the treatment she received, she said ECT is talked about as a last resort, but she now questions whether all other options available to her were exhausted.
“I believe I was treated well in my inpatient unit, but there is very little meaningful activity and I question if there were others things that could have been put in place and that makes me angry,” she said.
The Southern Health Trust said the organisation did not comment on specific cases.
ETC is a “very effective treatment option and is not prescribed without very careful consideration,” they said.
Lisa acknowledged that she was only speaking about her own experience, and said there were other cases where patients felt they had benefited from ECT.
However, she said it was her wish to never be treated with the therapy again.