Will ECT Work for Me? – Predictors of ECT Efficacy

It would be nice to know ahead of time, if a treatment would work. Unfortunately, no one cal tell the future: not for cancer treatment and not for mental illness treatment like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) either.

[Note: I am running a survey on real patients’ experiences with, and perspectives on, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). If you’ve had ECT and want your voice heard, please take the survey here. More detailed information on the ECT survey can be found here.]

Will Electroconvulsive Therapy Work for Me?

Predict if ECT Will be EffectiveBut very smart people try to figure out what might predict the outcome of treatments. Especially treatments like ECT, a hotly debated, and much maligned treatment. That’s the good news. And the bad news.

In a retrospective chart review of depressive and bipolar patients in a Netherlands hospital, of those who received  ECT, 65.8% met the standards for remission. The only predictor of response found was duration of index series.

The good part here is that medication failure did not predict response; so theoretically, no matter how many medications you have failed you have an equal chance of response to ECT.

The bad part is that the more times you get ECT in your initial series, the more likely you are to respond. I say this is bad because the more times you do ECT the more chances are you’re going to suffer more and worsening cognitive side effects too.

It’s something to consider when thinking about starting or stopping ECT treatment.

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