ECT is shock treatment. It is used to treat psychological disorders. How much of it causes how much of retrograde amnesia, is there any quantification?


Permanent loss of memory seems only occur in the memory of the treatment and events leading up to the treatment.

The results indicated that ECT can initially disrupt recall of events that occurred many years previously, but recovery of these memories was virtually complete by seven months after treatment. It was also clear that persisting memory loss for information acquired only a few days before treatment can occur. For information acquired one to two years prior to treatment, recovery was substantial, but the results suggested that some memory problems might persist for events that occurred during this time period.

Squire LR, Slater PC, Miller PL. Retrograde amnesia and bilateral electroconvulsive therapy. Long-term follow-up. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981

This study comes to the same conclusion:

Our results are consistent with the possibility that ECT as currently practiced does not cause significant lasting retrograde amnesia, but that amnesia is mostly temporary and related to the period of impairment immediately following ECT.

Martijn Meeter, Jaap M.J. Murre, Steve M.J. Janssen, Tom Birkenhager, W.W. van den Broek, Retrograde amnesia after electroconvulsive therapy: A temporary effect?, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 132, Issues 1–2, 2011

The following extract from The Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy: Recommendations for Treatment, Training and Privileging suggests that almost all patients in fact do experience retrograde amnesia, but the severity differs and can be assessed with a Mental State Exam which should be conducted prior:

Following ECT, patients also display retrograde amnesia. Deficits in the recall of both personal (autobiographical) and public information are usually evident, and the deficits are typically greatest for events that occurred temporally closest to the treatment

Below is a link to the full text.

The Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy: Recommendations for Treatment, Training and Privileging Second Edition (Completely Revised), Section 5

  • 1
    +1 but personally I would be a little careful with bulk pasting copyrighted material.
    – AliceD
    Jun 7 '18 at 21:13
  • 1
    @AliceD That's pretty standard practice on SE. Links only will typically be downvoted and deleted due to the risk of link rot, so some level of copying is actually required. How much is a judgement call.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jun 7 '18 at 22:58
  • @CareyGregory personally, I quote only stuff if I cannot possibly reproduce it in a better way. Often only a fraction of original texts target the question. Up to the answerer to extract the relevant stuff and synthesize an answer. But yes, it's all in the eyes of the beholder.
    – AliceD
    Jun 8 '18 at 6:06
  • @AliceD Not contradicting Carey, but that's not "bulk". No-one should carelessly overdo it, but quotes in the right amount are a service to the reader, covered by fair-use and right-to-quote and somewhat SE-standard: "Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference." Jun 8 '18 at 7:47
  • Since the Q looks a bit "unkempt", you might include a short definition of "retrograde amnesia" to appeal to a more general audience here. Jun 8 '18 at 20:01

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