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J ECT. 2008 Sep;24(3):183-90. doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e318177275d.

Individualized continuation electroconvulsive therapy and medication as a bridge to relapse prevention after an index course of electroconvulsive therapy in severe mood disorders: a naturalistic 3-year cohort study.

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Department of Psychiatry, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge, Stockholm, Sweden.


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is recognized as an effective acute treatment for mood disorders but is associated with high risk of relapse. To minimize this risk, we introduced as a routine individually tapered continuation ECT with concomitant medication (C-ECT + Med) after an index series in January 2000. In August 2002, a chart review of all patients (n = 41) who had received C-ECT + Med for more than 4 months was carried out. Sixteen patients also participated in an extensive interview. Mean duration of administered C-ECT at follow-up was 1 year, but for most patients (63%), C-ECT had been terminated. For 49% of patients, adjustments between ECT sessions had been made due to early signs of relapse. Two weeks was the most common interval between sessions for patients with ongoing C-ECT. The frequency of lithium-treated patients had increased from 12% before index to 41% during C-ECT. However, the rated response to the drug varied. Need for hospital care 3 years before and after the initiation of C-ECT + Med was compared in a second evaluation of the cohort. The number of patients hospitalized, number of admissions, and total days in hospital were all significantly reduced. Hospital days were reduced by 76% (P < 0.001). Three patients with previously cumulative years in hospital are described as case vignettes after 6 years with no or minimal need for further hospitalization. This study supports previous findings that individually tapered C-ECT + Med can maintain initial response to ECT and serve as a bridge to long-term relapse prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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