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ECT, though not favoured in the West for treating schizophrenia, is regularly practiced in India for this indication, particularly in poorly responding/treatment resistant cases.Therefore, its role in treatment-resistant schizophrenia is a subject of systematic investigation.
To compare the effectiveness and safety of Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in a group of treatment-resistant schizophrenia patients with a control group. Method : Eligible and consenting patients were randomly allocated to the ECT or Sham ECT groups. Both received antipsychotic drugs.Twenty-five patients completed the study (ECT, n= IS; Sham ECT, n= 10).The study was conducted in a double-blind manner. Clinical change was assessed weekly with BPRS, CGI and adverse event measures.ANOVA for repeated measures and other post-hoc comparisons were used for data analysis.
ECT treated patients improved significantly over successive weeks (p< 0.002) after 6 ECTs, whereas the group receiving sham-ECT did not In both the groups, however, CGI scores did not change significantly, suggesting a dissociated response pattern. ECT was associated with greater relief among carers and lower rehospitalization.
ECT augmentation may well have a significant impact on the clinical course of patients with treatment resistance schizophrenia. It is unclear, but possible, that these changes may be reinforced and maintained by maintenance ECTs. Replication of the present investigation and further studies on maintenance ECT would be rewarding.