ECT Effective for Treatment of Schizophrenia

ATLANTA – Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be effective for the treatment of schizophrenia, according to research presented at the 2016 American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting.

The study examined the effectiveness of ECT in a large clinical sample of patients with schizophrenia and looked at factors associated with treatment response and adverse effects. Many previous studies have looked at use of older equipment and medications that do not reflect current practice.

Researchers, led by Tyler Kaster, M.D., with the University of Toronto, examined the clinical records of 144 patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who received ECT and determined treatment response and adverse cognitive effects. The researchers looked at several factors associated with response, such as previous response to ECT and use of medication while undergoing ECT treatment.

More than three-quarters of the participants (77 percent) responded to the ECT treatment, demonstrating the clinical effectiveness of ECT for the treatment of schizophrenia. In addition the rate of adverse effects was lower than expected based on ECT use in patients with depression. While ECT appears to be an effective treatment option for schizophrenia with relatively minimal side effects, the authors urge further research to delineate its role in clinical practice.

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose 36,500 physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders.

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