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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2008;10(1):105-17.

Electroconvulsive therapy and its different indications.

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Dept of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany.


In spite of recent developments in the pharmacotherapy of depressive disorders, the delay until clinical improvement can be achieved, and the considerable rate of nonresponse and nonremission, are major problems which remain unresolved. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a nonpharmacologic biological treatment which has been proven to be a highly effective treatment option, predominantly for depression, but also for schizophrenia and other indications. Though there is a lack of controlled investigations on long-term treatments, ECT can also be used for relapse prevention during maintenance therapies. The safety and tolerability of electroconvulsive treatment have been enhanced by the use of modified stimulation techniques and by progress in modern anesthesia. Thus, today a safe treatment can also be offered to patients with higher somatic risks. ECT still represents an important option, especially in the therapy of treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders after medication treatment failures. Earlier consideration of ECT may reduce the rate of chronic and difficult-to-treat psychiatric disorders.

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