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Journal of ECT:
doi: 10.1097/YCT.0000000000000085
Reviews

Efficacy of Continuation/Maintenance Electroconvulsive Therapy for the Prevention of Recurrence of a Major Depressive Episode in Adults With Unipolar Depression: A Systematic Review

Brown, E. Denise RN, MN*; Lee, How RN, MN*; Scott, Daniel RN, MN; Cummings, Greta G. RN, PhD, FCAHS*

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Abstract

Objective

Divergent opinion surrounds the use of continuation/maintenance electroconvulsive therapy (c/mECT) as a recurrence prevention strategy in depression because of limited data on efficacy and adverse effects. In an effort to synthesize what is known about its efficacy, a systematic review of controlled studies reporting efficacy of c/mECT for the prevention of relapse or recurrence of a depressive episode in adults with unipolar major depression was conducted.

Methods

Eleven electronic databases were searched with a 3-stage screening process conducted by the author with an independent review. Quality assessments and data extractions were performed on selected studies using preselected tools.

Results

Six studies met the inclusion criteria; these are as follows: 3 randomized controlled trials, 1 small nonrandomized controlled trial, and 2 retrospective chart reviews. All participants had undergone an index course of electroconvulsive therapy with positive effects before receiving c/mECT or control/comparison interventions. One randomized controlled trial and retrospective chart review showed no significant difference between c/mECT and control/comparison interventions; the remaining 4 studies showed a significantly superior effect of c/mECT for the prevention of recurrence of depression. Monotherapy of c/mECT was less efficacious than c/mECT in combination with antidepressant medication, as was c/mECT delivered on a schedule, which was unresponsive to early signs of recurrence.

Conclusions

This review suggests that c/mECT is efficacious for the prevention of relapse/recurrence of major depression and that efficacy is increased when c/mECT is provided in combination with antidepressant medication and at flexible treatment intervals, responsive to early signs of recurrence.

Copyright © 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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