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J ECT. 2008 Jun;24(2):122-7. doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e318160d61e.

The use of electroconvulsive therapy in the elderly: a study from the psychiatric unit of a north Indian teaching hospital.

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Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.



There are very little data on elderly patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in India. This study was a preliminary attempt at characterizing the clinical and demographic profile of elderly subjects (>or=60 years) who received ECT in the psychiatric department of a teaching hospital in north India.


A retrospective case-note review was carried out to identify patients 60 years or older who had received ECT over an 8-year period at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. Several details about their demographic and clinical profile, indications for ECT, response patterns, and adverse effects were extracted.


Over the 8 years, 373 patients received ECT, of which 56 (15%) were 60 years or older. Complete records were available for only 50 of these patients. The majority (96%) had depression. The index depressive episode for which ECT was used was severe in 91.6% of the subjects, and 68% had not responded to adequate psychotropic treatment before ECT. Comorbid medical illnesses were present in 66% of cases and were associated with significantly higher risk of cognitive side effects. However, side effects were usually mild; there were no serious untoward events caused by ECT. About 80% to 90% showed some response to treatment. Those who had received inadequate antidepressant treatment before ECT were significantly more likely to respond to ECT.


Elderly with depression constitute a substantial proportion of those receiving ECT in India. Use of ECT in this population seemed to be mainly restricted to those who were very severely ill and poorly responsive to medications. Electroconvulsive therapy seemed to be a safe and effective treatment in such situations. However, particular care may be required in the subgroup with comorbid physical problems that may be more vulnerable to cognitive adverse effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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