The British Journal of Psychiatry
Electroconvulsive therapy and complaints of memory dysfunction: a prospective three-year follow-up study.
L R Squire, P C Slater


Self-reports of memory problems have been evaluated prospectively in depressed patients receiving bilateral ECT or unilateral ECT, and in depressed patients receiving treatments other than ECT. Depressed patients did not complain of poor memory at seven months after hospitalization. Compared to bilateral ECT, right unilateral ECT was associated with only mild memory complaints. At three years after treatment approximately one-half of the persons who had received bilateral ECT reported poor memory. These reports seemed to be influenced by three factors: (1) recurrence or persistence of conditions that were present before ECT; (2) the experience of amnesia initially associated with ECT and a subsequent tendency to question if memory had ever recovered; and (3) impaired memory for events that had occurred up to six months before treatment and up to about two months afterwards.