Concurrent Electroconvulsive Therapy and Bupropion Treatment

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Bupropion is associated with a dose-dependent increased risk of seizures. Use of concomitant bupropion and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) remains controversial because of an increased risk of prolonged seizures. This is the first systematic evaluation of the effect of bupropion on ECT.


A case group (n = 119), patients treated with concomitant ECT and bupropion, was compared with an age and gender frequency–matched control group (n = 261), treated with only ECT. Electroconvulsive therapy treatment data including seizure length, number of treatments, and concurrent medications were extracted. Longitudinal mixed models examined ECT versus ECT + bupropion group differences over the course of treatments measured by seizure duration (electroencephalogram [EEG] and motor). Multivariable models examined the total number of treatments and first and last seizure duration. All models considered group differences with ECT treatment measures adjusted for age, gender, benzodiazepine treatment, lead placement, and setting.


Electroconvulsive therapy treatment with bupropion led to shorter motor seizure duration (0.047) and EEG seizure duration (P = 0.001). The number of ECT treatments (7.3 vs 7.0 treatments; P = 0.23), respectively, or the probability of a prolonged seizure (P = 0.15) was not significantly different. Benzodiazepine use was significantly more common in control subjects (P = 0.01).


This is a retrospective analysis limited in part by unavailable variables (seizure threshold, nature of EEG and motor seizure monitoring, type of ECT device, dosing and formulation of bupropion, and duration of the current depressive illness).


This study revealed a significantly shorter duration in seizure length with ECT + concomitant bupropion, but not in the number of required treatments in those treated compared with ECT without bupropion. There remains a critical need to reevaluate the efficacy of concomitant use of psychotropic medications + ECT.

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