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J ECT. 2015 Mar;31(1):34-6. doi: 10.1097/YCT.0000000000000164.

Improving relapse prevention after successful electroconvulsive therapy for patients with severe depression: completed audit cycle involving 102 full electroconvulsive therapy courses in West Sussex, United kingdom.

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From the *Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Worthing, West Sussex; and †United Linconshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Grantham and District Hospital, Grantham, Linconshire, UK.



The aim of this study was to determine whether current guidance or consensus regarding continuation pharmacotherapy after successful electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was being followed by referring clinicians in West Sussex, United Kingdom.


A complete audit cycle examining psychotropic medication after successful ECT for patients with severe depression was performed. Clinical and ECT records (electronic and paper) were reviewed, and relapse rates in the 4 commonly prescribed psychotropic medication groups were compared.


The pattern of relapse in the 4 groups was similar for both audits 1 and 2. Taking the 102 patients as a whole, the lowest relapse rates were recorded for patients taking a combination of an antidepressant and lithium (16% relapsed within 6 months of successful ECT). Patients taking a combination of antipsychotic and antidepressants fared the worst with 75% relapse rate. This was followed by those taking a combination of antidepressant and a mood stabilizer (other than lithium) (69%). Patients taking antidepressant(s) only were associated with a relapse rate of 60%. Audit 2 demonstrated that clinicians did not change their prescribing practices for their patients after successful ECT despite the efforts made in widely disseminating the results of audit 1. In particular, there was no increase in the use of lithium.


Not all psychotropic medication prescribing for patients receiving ECT for depression followed available and current guidance or consensus. More needs to be done to understand the reasons for the reluctance to use lithium if relapse rates after ECT are to improve.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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