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Current status of electroconvulsive therapy for mood disorders: a clinical review
  1. Dusan Kolar
  1. Department of Psychiatry, Mood Disorders Research and Treatment Service, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada; kolard{at}


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment for mood disorders and a viable treatment option especially when urgency of clinical situation requires a prompt treatment response. After acute series of ECT, the ECT long-term treatment may be considered, although this practice may vary significantly between countries or even within the same country, because there is no universal consensus about its indications, duration and frequency of administration. Continuation or maintenance ECT is common in routine clinical practice and clinicians should be aware of the risks of using ECT long term. Neuropsychological assessment should be an essential part of a good clinical practice in ECT services. Cognitive side effects of ECT are sometimes underestimated and may last much longer after completed treatment than it is usually expected. These cognitive impairments associated with ECT may cause significant functional difficulties and prevent patients to return to work. Cognitive assessment during ECT treatment is usually not comprehensive enough and is limited to bedside assessment. A more proactive approach to careful neuropsychological assessment and consideration of combined maintenance medication treatment after ECT are essential.

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.