Electroconvulsive therapy is associated with superior symptomatic and functional change in depressed patients after psychiatric hospitalization

J Affect Disord. 2001 Mar;63(1-3):17-25. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(00)00167-1.


Background: Major depressive episode is associated with quality of life (QOL) deficits, and QOL improves following remission of depression. We conducted an observational study of the relationship between depressive symptoms and QOL for 1 year after psychiatric hospitalization, and compared QOL in patients who received ECT against those who did not.

Methods: We examined 88 patients with major depressive disorder (53.4+/-15.4 years old; 69 women) upon admission, with repeated measurements at discharge, 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after discharge. Depression severity was measured with the Beck Depression Inventory. QOL measurements encompassed ADLs, IADLs, performance in major roles, and satisfaction with relationships. Treatment for depression was at the discretion of the respective physicians.

Results: Depression severity dropped dramatically by discharge, and changed little thereafter. QOL measures showed improvement at the first month, with additional improvement at the third month. Improvement in QOL was closely tied to improvement in depression severity. ECT during the index hospitalization was associated with greater improvement in depressive symptoms and in most measures of QOL.

Limitations: The results of this study may not apply to the treatment of outpatients, and the large number of statistical comparisons may have resulted in some spurious associations.

Conclusions: Inpatient treatment of depression is followed by improvement in QOL. Novel findings in this study include evidence that maximum improvement in QOL does not occur until an average of 3 months after discharge, and that ECT-treated patients had superior outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome