Electroconvulsive Therapy Safe, Effective for Range of Serious Mental Illnesses

Serious complications are rare, with confusion and cognitive side effects most common
Electroconvulsive Therapy Safe, Effective for Range of Serious Mental Illnesses
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FRIDAY, April 26, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe and effective treatment for serious mental illness, according to a study presented at the annual congress of the European Psychiatric Association, held from April 6 to 9 in Budapest, Hungary.

Julie Langan Martin, M.B., Ch.B., from the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, and colleagues explored the use of ECT across Scotland and its efficacy and side effects for a range of common psychiatric disorders, including depression, bipolar depression, schizophrenia, and mania (2009 to 2019).

The researchers identified 4,826 ECT episodes, mostly in women (68.4 percent). The mean number of treatments per episode was 9.59 and the mean treatment dose delivered was 277.75 mC. Of the 2,920 episodes of treatment with Clinical Global Index Severity (CGI-S) entry and exit recorded, at exit, mean CGI-S scores indicated borderline illness (2.07) compared with marked illness (5.03) at entry. Complications included anesthetic issues and prolonged seizures (<1 percent of treatment episodes for both), as well as cardiovascular problems (2.2 percent), nausea (7.2 percent), and muscle aches (12 percent). Confusion or cognitive side effects were reported in 33.1 percent of treatment episodes.

"[This study] challenges common misconceptions and stigmas associated with ECT, providing valuable insights that can reshape public perceptions and stimulate informed discussions among health care professionals," Julian Beezhold, M.B., Ch.B., the secretary general of the European Psychiatric Association, said in a statement.

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