Elektoconvulsiv therapy (ECT) has been used since the 1930s in the treatment of depressive illness. Views on ECT vary, from those who consider that it is probably ineffective, to those who think it is the most effective treatment available in psychiatry. The treatment has been controversial both in the psychiatric environment and among patients. The substantial geographical variation in rates of use suggests uncertainty about its efficacy.
In this task we conducted a literature search in PubMed and Cochrane databases to investigate whether ECT has an effect in the treatment of depression. We have exclusively focused on studies designed as randomized controlled trials (RCT), and where ECT is compared to placebo-ECT (sham-ECT or simulated ECT)
We have identified and described 10 studies. The results show that in the short term there is a significant effect of ECT in the treatment of depression. Long-term effects show no significant effects.
Many of the studies are of poor methodological quality and not of recent date. It seems to be a great need of more studies in this field. With a sufficient samplesize and a focus on the patient group that have strong indications of ECT.