and mental side-effects are well documented. Our figures show significant numbers treated in the past two years reported adverse effects.
Of the 5,165 given ECT, 70 reported having memory issues post-therapy. But this figure is likely to be much higher as experts fear many cases go unreported.
Sussex NHS Trust confirmed 256 patients had ECT. In random sampling, of 25 patients quizzed 14 had memory loss, with two suffering “significant memory impairment”.
Critics claim a spike in patients is because ECT is a cheap therapy.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists said 2017-18 income was £105million down in five years, in real terms.
A probe by the British Medical Association last year showed patients with serious mental health issues, leading to self-harm or attempted suicide, waited up to two years for specialist support.
Some 3,700 waited more than six months for counselling and 1,500 waited longer than a year. Sue Cunliffe, a former doctor, had 21 rounds of ECT between 2004-2005 at NHS Worcestershire.
She believes talking therapy would have cured her, but she never had it.
Sue said: “I had a reactive depression. I was classed as being drug resistant. The only treatment they said I could have was electroconvulsive therapy.
“From the moment I had ECT I started complaining about not being able to remember things, people’s faces.
“They seem so pleased with who they’ve cured and yet totally and utterly dismiss people like me.
“It’s almost dehumanising and I feel like I am almost like a sacrificial al lamb.
“That it doesn’t n’t matter what they do to some people as long g as they cure others.”
Some doctors ors argue that ECT is wrongly stigmatised – and d say it could even be used more. Tim Oakley, a consultant psychiatrist with the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust, said: “There are some patients who would respond very well to ECT who perhaps don’t get it as quickly as they should – or they don’t get it at all – for various reasons.
“In terms of getting people better, particularly for depression where everything else fails, it is still the best treatment.”
A doctor who has undergone ECT also supported it. Dr Frances Coleman Williams had the therapy in 2008 at Royal South Hants Hospital.
She said said: “ECT was part of my journey. I had lots of therapy and lots of medications and lots of people who helped me – and I needed ECT during all of that.
“It was a vital part of my journey to get me out of that particularly dark patch.
“When the psychiatrist suggested it, he did talk about side-effects – possible headaches, possible memory loss, possible difficulties with thinking.
“I do feel that I was fully consented. When the situation is completely hopeless and this is the only hope there is, it felt like I may as well give it a go. We didn’t have any time to wait, because I was going to kill myself otherwise.”
NHS England and the Royal College of Psychiatry were unwilling to give a statement about the role of ECT in memory loss.
ECT EC was a vital part of my journey, jou it helped me out of that tha particularly dark patch
DR FRFRANCES COLEMAN WILLIAMS ON HAVING SHOCK THERAPY
ECT is electroconvulsive therapy – a treatment that involves sending an electric current through the brain to trigger an epileptic seizure.It is used to relieve the symptoms of some mental health problems.The treatment is given under a general anaesthetic and using muscle relaxants, so that a patient will only twitch slightly and their body does not convulse during the seizure.ECT is mainly used on patients with severe, lifethreatening depression.No one is sure how it works, but it is known to change patterns of blood flow in the brain.It also alters the way energy is used in parts of the brain that are thought to be involved in depression.The treatment may cause changes in brain chemistry, although how these are related to symptoms is not understood.
If you are distressed and having suicidal thoughts contactThe Samaritans free and confidentially on 116 123