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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 50 (2008) 1, 23 - 31

New research

The efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy in adolescents. A restrospective study

J.M. Hegeman, S.J.C. Doesborgh, M.C. van Niel, H.J.G.M. van Megen

Electroconvulsive therapy (ect) is an effective treatment for depressive disorders in adults and the elderly. For adolescents however, ect is still a controversial treatment because little research has been done into the efficacy and side effects of ect in adolescents and because psychiatrists working with children and adolescents are relatively unfamiliar with this form of treatment.
aim To investigate the efficacy of ect in adolescents who were treated in Meerkanten between 2000 and 2006 for a therapy-resistant depressive episode and/or suicidal behaviour.
method Scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale or the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale before and after ect were compared. The percentage improvement on the depression scales and the percentage of patients who showed an improvement of at least 60% on the scales in the group of adolescents were compared with the percentage improvement in a group of adults treated in Meerkanten.
results One-third of the adolescent patients showed an improvement of 60% or more on these scales; the average improvement was 46%. ect was found to be equally effective in adolescents and adults.
conclusion ect is a successful form of treatment for one-third of adolescents with a severe therapy-resistant depressive episode; this is a clinically relevant result for these patients for whom no alternative treatments are available.


keywords adolescent, ECT, efficacy