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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

ECT in the elderly.

Depression is a common clinical problem in the elderly. Risk factors in this population include genetic vulnerability, psychosocial losses, medical comorbidity, cerebrovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. Depression in the elderly may have severe consequences, including high rates of suicide, malnutrition or dehydration, high utilization of medical services, impaired recovery from medical illnesses, and inappropriate placement in residential care facilities. A significant number of older depressed patients may not respond to anti-depressant medications, suffer intolerable medication side effects, or have illnesses with symptoms or consequences so severe that it is not feasible to wait the time required for one or more antidepressant trials to work. For many of these patients ECT can be a dramatically effective treatment. With appropriate evaluation and monitoring, ECT can be performed with relative safety even for patients with serious concurrent medical illnesses. Serious adverse effects are rare, and cognitive consequences of ECT are generally circumscribed and of limited duration; there is no evidence of "brain damage" or permanent change in cognitive ability from ECT. After a recovery period memory function is often better than it was during the episode of depression. For patients who have been refractory to or intolerant of medication, maintenance ECT can be an effective strategy for preventing early relapse. Further research is needed, however, to clarify the optimum use of MECT schedules and pharmacotherapy combinations to most effectively and safely prevent relapse of depression in different elderly populations and to help predict who will best respond to which treatment modalities.[1]


  1. ECT in the elderly. Greenberg, R.M. New directions for mental health services. (1997) [Pubmed]
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