Major depressive disorder (MDD) commonly coincides with borderline personality disorder (BPD), aggravating depressive symptom severity and reducing the odds of responding to antidepressant treatments. In this systematic review, we summarize the available evidence assessing the question whether the presence of BPD reduces the response to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in individuals with MDD.
We conducted a systematic literature search (up to December 2021) without language restriction, using the PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science (Core Collection), Embase, and Cochrane Library databases, for prospective and retrospective studies, which assessed the efficacy of ECT in patients with MDD and comorbid BPD.
Of the 2548 records screened, 6 articles were selected, 2 of which were based on the same population, leading to 5 included articles. The included studies are reporting on 3465 patients with MDD, of which 1206 had a comorbid BPD. Five of the 6 studies found a less robust response to ECT in patients with MDD and BPD compared with those without BPD.
Our results suggest that, in patients with MDD, the presence of BPD is associated with a less robust acute response to ECT. Patients with BPD, however, showed a significant response to ECT in all of the included studies. More longitudinal studies with higher accuracy in BPD diagnosis are needed. Although a comorbid BPD seems to decrease the efficacy of ECT for MDD, ECT remains an effective treatment option in this severely ill patient group.