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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 34 (1992) 2

New research

The relapse frequency after electroconvulsive therapy for unipolar depression

H.D.B. Vermeulen, J.P.C.J. Selten

A review of the literature shows that the relapse frequency following response to electroconvulsive therapy for unipolar depressions is not higher than after drug therapy, provided that the patient, after ECT, receives an adequate continuation drug therapy. In the care of patients who, prior to ECT, failed to respond to adequate trials with antidepressants, the frequency of relapse is probably higher and reaches about 50% in the first year after ECT. This high relapse rate is probably the result of selection of patients with a more serious form of depressive illness, not of ECT. Fifty percent of the patients remain well in the first year. ECT is still the treatment that is chosen for medication-resistent patients.