Is It True That Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Has Side Effects Such As Memory Loss And Brain Damage?

Question: Is it true that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has side effects such as memory loss and brain damage?

Answer: ECT can have some common acute side effects. In general one of the most common side effects are headaches. Those are easily treatable. But if you have migraines or other types of chronic headaches it'd be important that your doctor knows this.

Patients sometimes can also complain of muscle aches. Usually those muscle aches are in the first one or two treatments and get better as time goes on with the treatments. Memory problems have been discussed with ECT and can be a real complication to the procedure. Most of these memory problems are short-term memory problems, particularly for the time around the ECT treatments. Concern has been whether patients have long-term memory problems. And there is some evidence that some patients can have spotty long-term memory problems. This is something you should watch very carefully with your doctor and discuss with him in some detail both before the treatments and while you're receiving the treatments.

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