Relapses and recurrence remain the greatest risks posed by patients with severe mood disorders after discontinuation of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). To date, despite a wide range of literature on ECT, little is known about the rate of recurrence of depression after maintenance ECT (mECT) discontinuation specifically. This study sought to address this lacuna, confronting literature data to the results of a retrospective case study.
A comprehensive review was conducted, followed by a retrospective analysis of 18 cases of mECT discontinuation between January 2011 and June 2016 involving patients with affective disorders.
The comprehensive review revealed that only 3 studies have assessed recurrence rate after c/mECT discontinuation. In our retrospective analysis, mean (SD) mECT duration was 12.69 (12.16) months. A new mood event (usually a depressive state) was observed in 50% of the cases, and 44% of those recurrences occurred during the first 6 months after discontinuation.
Given that high recurrence rates are observed after mECT discontinuation, the authors discuss the advantages of long-term mECT and the choice of concomitant pharmacotherapy for severe and complex affective disorders.