Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment of depression and other psychiatric conditions. There are few comprehensive data on how many patients receive ECT in the United States or about the demographics of ECT recipients. This study characterizes the demographics of those receiving ECT and how these demographics may have changed with time.
Freedom of information requests for all data from record keeping inception to January 2019 were sent to the Department of Health or equivalent agency of states that mandate reporting of ECT. Information on demographics and the number of treating facilities was extracted.
Data on 62,602 patients receiving treatment in 3 states (California, Illinois, Vermont) were obtained. Overall, 62.3% were women. Fewer than 1% of patients treated were younger than 18 years, whereas 30.3% were 65 years or older. White patients received a disproportionate proportion of treatments, with all other races underrepresented. The total number of facilities offering ECT in the 3 states declined over the study period.
Recipients of ECT are more likely to be female, more likely to be elderly, and more likely to be white than the average person in their state.