Background: There is increasing clinical and scientific interest in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Aim: To provide an overview of the main research findings of the Flemish-Dutch research consortium ResPECT.
Method: We report on our review of the relevant literature.
Results: Our studies confirm that ECT is one of the most efficient treatments for depression in later life and for depression with psychotic features. Older people with age-related brain pathology can respond well to ECT. It is still preferable to apply a standard pulse-width because this increases the efficacy of the treatment and minimises the cognitive impact. Even vulnerable older people can react favourably to ECT.
Conclusion: Recent findings of the ResPECT consortium are providing new insights that are applicable in daily clinical practice. Research into mechanisms of action can also increase our understanding of the pathophysiology of severe depression.