[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Remission of illness in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) is achieved in less than half of patients initially treated with medication. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is another treatment option. We report the speed of response and remission rates in a cohort of depressed patients who received a course of acute-phase ECT in the initial phase of an ongoing multicenter randomized trial of continuation ECT versus pharmacotherapy.
Patients with MDD according to DSM-IV criteria received bilateral ECT 3 times weekly. Prior to each treatment, a 24-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D-24) score was obtained by a clinical rater. Sustained response was defined as a > or = 50% reduction in baseline HAM-D-24 score for at least 2 and all subsequent measurement occasions. Remission was defined as HAM-D-24 scores of < or = 10 for at least the last 2 consecutive assessments. Data were collected from May 1997 through November 2000.
Of the 253 patients who entered the study, 86% (N = 217) completed the acute course of ECT. Sustained response occurred in 79% of the sample, and remission occurred in 75% of the sample (N = 253); 34% (85/253) of patients achieved remission at or before ECT #6 (week 2), and 65% (164/253) achieved remission at or before ECT #10 (weeks 3-4). Over half (54%; 136/253) had an initial first response by ECT #3 (end of week 1).
ECT was associated with rapid response and remission in a high percentage of patients. ECT warrants early consideration in treatment algorithms for patients with MDD.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 05/2004; 65(4):485-91. DOI:10.4088/JCP.v65n0406 · 5.14 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is highly effective for treatment of major depression, but naturalistic studies show a high rate of relapse after discontinuation of ECT.
To determine the efficacy of continuation pharmacotherapy with nortriptyline hydrochloride or combination nortriptyline and lithium carbonate in preventing post-ECT relapse.
Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted from 1993 to 1998, stratified by medication resistance or presence of psychotic depression in the index episode.
Two university-based hospitals and 1 private psychiatric hospital.
Of 290 patients with unipolar major depression recruited through clinical referral who completed an open ECT treatment phase, 159 patients met remitter criteria; 84 remitting patients were eligible and agreed to participate in the continuation study.
Patients were randomly assigned to receive continuation treatment for 24 weeks with placebo (n = 29), nortriptyline (target steady-state level, 75-125 ng/mL) (n = 27), or combination nortriptyline and lithium (target steady-state level, 0.5-0.9 mEq/L) (n = 28).
Relapse of major depressive episode, compared among the 3 continuation groups.
Nortriptyline-lithium combination therapy had a marked advantage in time to relapse, superior to both placebo and nortriptyline alone. Over the 24-week trial, the relapse rate for placebo was 84% (95% confidence interval [CI], 70%-99%); for nortriptyline, 60% (95% CI, 41%-79%); and for nortriptyline-lithium, 39% (95% CI, 19%-59%). All but 1 instance of relapse with nortriptyline-lithium occurred within 5 weeks of ECT termination, while relapse continued throughout treatment with placebo or nortriptyline alone. Medication-resistant patients, female patients, and those with more severe depressive symptoms following ECT had more rapid relapse.
Our study indicates that without active treatment, virtually all remitted patients relapse within 6 months of stopping ECT. Monotherapy with nortriptyline has limited efficacy. The combination of nortriptyline and lithium is more effective, but the relapse rate is still high, particularly during the first month of continuation therapy.
JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 04/2001; 285(10):1299-307. DOI:10.1001/jama.285.10.1299 · 30.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clinical trials indicate that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the most effective treatment for major depression, but its effectiveness in community settings has not been examined.
In a prospective, naturalistic study involving 347 patients at seven hospitals, clinical outcomes immediately after ECT and over a 24-week follow-up period were examined in relation to patient characteristics and treatment variables.
The sites differed markedly in patient features and ECT administration but did not differ in clinical outcomes. In contrast to the 70%-90% remission rates expected with ECT, remission rates, depending on criteria, were 30.3%-46.7%. Longer episode duration, comorbid personality disorder, and schizoaffective disorder were associated with poorer outcome. Among remitters, the relapse rate during follow-up was 64.3%. Relapse was more frequent in patients with psychotic depression or comorbid Axis I or Axis II disorders. Only 23.4% of ECT nonremitters had sustained remission during follow-up.
The remission rate with ECT in community settings is substantially less than that in clinical trials. Providers frequently end the ECT course with the view that patients have benefited fully, yet formal assessment shows significant residual symptoms. Patients who do not remit with ECT have a poor prognosis; this underscores the need to achieve maximal improvement with this modality.
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