Long-Term Treatment Strategies in Major Depression: A 2-Year Prospective Naturalistic Follow-Up After Successful Electroconvulsive Therapy

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ObjectiveTo describe a 2-year follow-up in a cohort of patients with major depressive disorder treated with pharmacotherapy plus a short-term course of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) over the index episode.MethodsThis naturalistic study included 127 patients. After remission, the same pharmacotherapy regimen was maintained in all patients, whereas 44 also received continuation/maintenance ECT (C/M-ECT). Demographic and clinical data were reported for patients with pharmacotherapy and patients with pharmacotherapy and C/M-ECT. The clinical course of the disorder was compared two years before and after index episode remission.ResultsContinuation/maintenance ECT was more prescribed in men and in those patients with more previous episodes and admissions and higher treatment resistance. Longer duration of index episode and greater number of episodes in the previous 2 years were identified as risk factors for relapse/recurrence. Furthermore, in our sample, a significant improvement of the illness course after remission was observed after successful ECT.ConclusionBoth treatments were effective as maintenance strategies for depressive patients who showed complete response to an acute ECT course. According to our observations, pharmacotherapy both alone and plus C/M-ECT may potentially be considered as long-term treatments after successful ECT in patients with severe major depressive disorder.

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