Electroconvulsive Therapy in the Elderly: New Findings in Geriatric Depression

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2016 Apr;18(4):40. doi: 10.1007/s11920-016-0674-5.


This paper reviews recent research on the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in elderly depressed patients. The PubMed database was searched for literature published within the past 4 years, using the search terms: "electroconvulsive elderly," "electroconvulsive geriatric," "ECT and elderly," and "ECT elderly cognition." The studies in this review indicate excellent efficacy for ECT in geriatric patients. Adverse cognitive effects of ECT in this population are usually transient and not typically severe. In addition, continuation/maintenance ECT (C/M-ECT) may be a favorable strategy for relapse prevention in the elderly after a successful acute course of ECT. ECT is an important treatment option for depressed geriatric patients with severe and/or treatment-resistant illness. New data add to the evidence demonstrating that ECT is a highly effective, safe, and well-tolerated antidepressant treatment option for geriatric patients.

Keywords: Cognition; Depression; ECT; Electroconvulsive; Geriatric.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antidepressive Agents