ECT plus Antidepressants: a Review
Out on PubMed, from researchers in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, is this review:
Our results suggest that an adjuvant antidepressant enhances the efficacy of ECT in patients with major depression. Although the included studies had some methodological limitations, effect sizes were consistently small to moderate. We speculate that modern-day controlled trials using adequately dosed TCAs and MAOIs will most likely result in larger effect sizes. From a clinical point of view, we prefer an adjuvant TCA to an adjuvant MAOI, since TCAs are generally safe to use with ECT (American Psychiatric Association, 2001; Baghai et al., 2006; Naguib and Koorn, 2002; Sackeim et al., 2009), whereas MAOIs warrant precautions during anaesthesia for ECT (Dolenc et al., 2004; Naguib and Koorn, 2002). Moreover, MAOIs are prescribed far less commonly than TCAs and the use of an MAOI requires dietary restrictions.
Thus, if ECT is indicated for a patient with major depression, we recommend the routine use of an adequately dosed adjuvant antidepressant to improve the efficacy of ECT. We leave the choice between a TCA, an SSRI/SNRI and an MAOI up to the clinician. Our findings warrant renewed interest in adjuvant pharmacotherapy during ECT for major depression.
This is a carefully crafted and very useful systematic review and meta-analysis of an important topic. The authors are clear in their belief that, despite the limitations of the literature, concomitant antidepressant (AD) use with ECT is helpful.
Although not mentioned, because there was no placebo group in the acute phase, the PRIDE study added to the evidence base of the safety/tolerability of combined venlafaxine and ECT.