Who is most likely to benefit from electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?

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Patients with unremitting severe depression, especially when accompanied by significant physical complications, suicidal thinking or psychosis, are most likely to benefit from electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Evidence suggests that for patients who have not improved with up to three antidepressant medications, ECT is significantly more likely to be effective than having the patients try another medication. A major clinical trial called STAR-D found that the likelihood of depressed patients improving when trying their third medication trial is 17 percent; by contrast, approximately 50 percent of these patients can improve after ECT.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.