Electroconvulsive Therapy in the Elderly: New Findings in Geriatric Depression


This paper reviews recent research on the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in elderly depressed patients. The PubMed database was searched for literature published within the past 4 years, using the search terms: “electroconvulsive elderly,” “electroconvulsive geriatric,” “ECT and elderly,” and “ECT elderly cognition.” The studies in this review indicate excellent efficacy for ECT in geriatric patients. Adverse cognitive effects of ECT in this population are usually transient and not typically severe. In addition, continuation/maintenance ECT (C/M-ECT) may be a favorable strategy for relapse prevention in the elderly after a successful acute course of ECT. ECT is an important treatment option for depressed geriatric patients with severe and/or treatment-resistant illness. New data add to the evidence demonstrating that ECT is a highly effective, safe, and well-tolerated antidepressant treatment option for geriatric patients.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as • Of importance

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Correspondence to Charles H. Kellner.

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Emma T. Geduldig declares no conflict of interest.

Charles H. Kellner reports grant support from the National Institute of Mental Health, royalties from Cambridge University Press, and honoraria from Psychiatric Times, UpToDate, and the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Geriatric Disorders

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Geduldig, E.T., Kellner, C.H. Electroconvulsive Therapy in the Elderly: New Findings in Geriatric Depression. Curr Psychiatry Rep 18, 40 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-016-0674-5

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  • Electroconvulsive
  • ECT
  • Geriatric
  • Depression
  • Cognition