[Electroconvulsive therapy in combination with psychotropic and non-psychotropic pharmacological treatments: Review of the literature and practical recommendations]

Encephale. 2020 Aug;46(4):283-292. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2020.01.002. Epub 2020 Mar 6.
[Article in French]


Context: Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is the most effective treatment for treatment resistant mood disorders and catatonia. ECT also appears to be an effective treatment in combination with clozapine in the context of treatment resistant schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Although increasingly codified (guidelines on indications, contraindications, methods of implementation), the practice of ECT still lacks consensual protocols. The concomitant use of psychotropic and/or non-psychotropic medication is a common situation when ECT treatment is considered. To our knowledge, there is to date no summary of studies or case reports in France, nor any proposal for guidelines concerning the management of medication of the patient to whom ECT sessions are offered. Indeed, several particularities must be considered. This article proposes to specify for each pharmacological class the possible interaction between ECT and medication. A first section of this article will be devoted to non-psychotropic treatments, and a second section to psychotropic treatments. A practical summary table is also provided.

Method: A review of the literature was conducted including all articles published prior to January 2019 referenced in Pub Med database, combining research with Medical Subject Headings "Electroconvulsive Therapy" and each following pharmacological class: "Cardiovascular Agents" "Bronchodilator Agents" "Bronchoconstrictor Agents" "Theophylline" "Anticoagulants" "Hypoglycemic Agents" "Insulin" "Potassium" "Benzodiazepines" "Valproic Acid" "Carbamazepine" "Lamotrigine" "Lithium" "Antidepressive Agents" "Antipsychotic Agents".

Results: After reading the titles, abstracts and whole articles, then searching for additional articles in the references, 50 articles were selected. A summary table summarizing the main risks and proposing a course of action has been produced.

Discussion: It is essential to take into account the specificity and the different physiological mechanisms involved in the ECT treatment in order to adjust the associated pharmacological treatments. The prescription for each molecule should be reviewed when ECT treatment is initiated.

Keywords: Electroconvulsive therapy; Non-psychotropic pharmacological treatments; Psychotropic pharmacological treatments; Traitements pharmacologiques non psychotropes; Traitements pharmacologiques psychotropes; Électroconvulsivothérapie.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Catatonia / epidemiology
  • Catatonia / therapy
  • Central Nervous System Agents / classification
  • Central Nervous System Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / adverse effects
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Combined Modality Therapy / standards
  • Contraindications
  • Drug Interactions / physiology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / adverse effects
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / methods
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy* / methods
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy* / standards
  • Humans
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mood Disorders / therapy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Psychotropic Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Psychotropic Drugs / adverse effects


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Central Nervous System Agents
  • Psychotropic Drugs