Lamotrigine and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are both safe and effective treatments for bipolar depression. Concerns exist that anticonvulsants may interfere with seizure expression during ECT or may exacerbate cognitive side effects, potentially affecting clinical response. This report examines the clinical use of concurrent ECT and lamotrigine for acute bipolar depression and the transition to maintenance therapy.
Nine patients with acute bipolar depression were simultaneously treated with a course of ECT while titrating lamotrigine for maintenance therapy. We compared mean stimulus intensity, mean seizure duration, and mean time to orientation after treatment for each patient during treatment with their highest and lowest lamotrigine dose.
All 9 patients were treated to remission. From the lowest daily dose to the highest daily dose, mean increase in lamotrigine was 102.8 mg. Clinically adequate seizures were obtained in each patient. Lamotrigine had minimal effect on each measured ECT parameter. The interval between ECT treatments was spaced to a mean of 15.2 days. The treatment combination was well tolerated, with no serious adverse events, no rashes, and no worsening of cognitive side effects.
Concurrent use of lamotrigine with ECT in bipolar depression seems safe, did not interfere with routine ECT practice, and allowed for transition to maintenance pharmacotherapy.