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J ECT. 2002 Sep;18(3):130-7.

Effect of piracetam on ECT-induced cognitive disturbances: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.

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Department of Psychiatry, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China.


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is still the fastest, most effective, and frequently life-saving therapeutic intervention in several forms of depression and some other psychiatric disorders. Transient memory disturbances are frequent after ECT. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted to investigate the effects of piracetam on ECT-induced confusion and memory disturbances. Thirty-eight consecutively admitted patients with depressive illness or schizophrenia requiring ECT were given either piracetam or an identical-looking placebo during the period of ECT treatment and for 2 weeks afterward. Daily dosage of piracetam was 7.2 g, given orally for the first 2 weeks while patients underwent ECT (loading phase), followed by 4.8 g for the rest of the study period. Participants were evaluated by standardized clinical rating scales and cognitive psychologic tests 1 to 2 days before ECT, 1 day after their third and sixth ECT treatments, and 2 weeks after they had completed their ECT courses. Piracetam had no significant effect in preventing ECT-induced memory disturbances. All clinical ratings were consistently, albeit not significantly, better in the piracetam group, suggesting that piracetam may have augmented the effects of ECT.

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