Strategies to Minimize Cognitive Side Effects With ECT: Aspects of ECT Technique

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The adverse cognitive effects of electroconvulsive therapy are important limitations in the use of this treatment that continues to be a significant therapeutic strategy after 7 decades of use. Among the approaches to mitigation of these side effects are considerations involving the prescription and manipulation of the electrical stimulus itself. The impact of the following electrical factors on the cognitive outcomes of electroconvulsive therapy are surveyed: efficiency of the stimulus as expressed in electrical waveform; targeting of the stimulus, the major concept underlying electrode placement; stimulus dosing; and frequency and number of treatments. The current state of development of knowledge in these areas is summarized, and methods to achieve the best cognitive outcomes without sacrificing clinical efficacy are discussed. Future trends in the further optimization of the electrical stimulus are briefly mentioned.

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