Electroconvulsive therapy in movement disorders: an update

J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. Fall 2003;15(4):407-21. doi: 10.1176/jnp.15.4.407.


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a well-recognized treatment for psychiatric illness, primarily depressive disorders. Its use in patients with neurological illnesses is steadily increasing. Older reviews indicate that ECT may also benefit Parkinson's disease and similar movement disorders independent of its effects on comorbid psychiatric disorders. In this updated review, recent literature regarding ECT and movement disorders is summarized from 1990 to 2000. Considerable evidence indicates that ECT improves motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease in patients with and without mood disorders. A few case reports, ranging from one to six patients per disorder, suggest that ECT may ameliorate the motor symptoms of other movement disorders. ECT affects a variety of neurotransmitters that play a role in these diseases. Limitations of current reports are reviewed, and recommendations for further investigation are made.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Akathisia, Drug-Induced / therapy
  • Dyskinesias / therapy
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Movement Disorders / epidemiology
  • Movement Disorders / therapy*
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / epidemiology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / therapy