Is There a Decline in Cognitive Functions After Combined Electroconvulsive Therapy and Antipsychotic Therapy in Treatment-Refractory Schizophrenia?

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An analysis of literature shows that there is still little evidence concerning the efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) combined with antipsychotic therapy in a group of treatment-resistant schizophrenia patients. More precisely, its influence on cognitive functions is still equivocal. The aim of this study was to assess the influence of ECT combined with antipsychotic therapy on working memory, attention, and executive functions in a group of treatment-refractory schizophrenia patients. Twenty-seven patients completed the study: 14 men and 13 women, aged 21 to 55 years (mean age, 32.8 years), diagnosed with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Each patient underwent a course of ECT sessions and was treated with antipsychotic medications. Before the ECT and within 3 days after the last ECT session, the participants were assessed with the following neuropsychological tests: Trail Making Test (TMT) and Wisconsin Cart Sorting Test (WCST). There were no significant differences in the TMT and WCST results after combined ECT and antipsychotic therapy in treatment-refractory schizophrenia patients. According to the results of the neuropsychological tests, there was no decline in attention, executive functions, or working memory. The current study shows no significant difference in attention, working memory, or executive functions after treatment with a combination of electroconvulsive and antipsychotic therapy. This suggests that combined electroconvulsive therapy may not have a negative influence on the neuropsychological functioning of patients with treatment resistant schizophrenia.

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