In an open clinical trial, depressed patients received age-dosed, brief-pulse electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) either with or without 500 mg i.v. caffeine sodium benzoate before each treatment. Caffeine-pretreated patients required fewer ECT treatments, and after three to four treatments, their Hamilton Depression Scale (HDS) scores were significantly lower. At the end of the ECT course, both groups reached the same reduction in HDS scores. Of five memory tests, one showed better performance at the end of the ECT course for the caffeine-pretreated compared with the non-caffeine-pretreated patients. The results argue that caffeine-modified ECT differs from unmodified ECT in speed of response and the effects on cognitive tests.
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