January 19, 2018 – Maximizing Benefit


Anchor lead: How can the benefits of depression treatment be maximized? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, can be a lifesaver for people with severe depression. Now research by Irving Reti, an ECT expert at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, shows the response to therapy may be mediated via a specific gene. Reti says knowing this may allow more efficacious treatments to be developed that may also be more durable.

Reti: The durability of ECT is a major issue for patients who have undergone an acute course. We have good evidence now that tapering ECT in conjunction with starting an antidepressant medication perhaps with the addition of lithium, helps reduce the risk of relapse after that acute course, compared with simply giving patients medication after an acute course and stopping the ECT cold turkey so to speak.  :28

Reti says avoiding some of the side effects of ECT, such as memory impairment, would also be a good thing. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.