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A 33-year-old member asked:

Which kind of memory is disrupted by electroconvulsive therapy?

2 doctor answers5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Joseph Quinn
Neurology 33 years experience
Short term memory.: Electroconvulsive therapy for depression has been given a scary reputation in movies, but it is actually an effective therapy which is appropriate in some cases of severe depression. Patients frequently have some memory loss surrounding the time of the procedure, and those memories are not recovered. However, electroconvulsive therapy is not thought to produce progressive memory loss.
Created for people with ongoing healthcare needs but benefits everyone.
Dr. James Fox
Dr. James Fox commented
Psychiatry 16 years experience
That is correct, it will not make it difficult for you to make new memories. Memory loss around the time of treatment is common and to be expected, as with other procedures in which anesthesia is used.
Dec 27, 2011
Dr. James Fox
Psychiatry 16 years experience
Retrograde Amnesia: Memory loss w/ ECT is more likely to impair recent memories than ingrained ones. The more "fresh" the memory, the more likely it may be lost. It is not entire loss of memory, but rather "holes" in your memory. For example, you may remember who attended your recent birthday party, but have no recollection of any gifts. Unilateral electrode placement affects memory more than right unilateral.
Created for people with ongoing healthcare needs but benefits everyone.

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Last updated May 23, 2018

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