Twenty-one patients (13 depressives and 8 schizoaffectives) who underwent maintenance electroconvulsive therapy (M-ECT) were compared with controls who received maintenance pharmacotherapy alone. Measures of effectiveness and safety of maintenance treatment were prospectively obtained during a 1-year follow-up. Survival analysis demonstrated a significantly better outcome defined by time to rehospitalization for all patients of the M-ECT group. Regarding the subgroups, depressives of the M-ECT group had markedly decreased rehospitalization rates cmpared to depressive controls. Furthermore, M-ECT in depressives resulted in a significant reduction in hospitalization rates and duration during follow-up. In schizoaffective patients, a significant difference in survival time was found in favor of the M-ECT group. In both groups, schizoaffectives had a markedly poorer outcome compared to depressive subjects. Our results indicate that in selected patients M-ECT, at least in combination with supporting medication, may be an efficient and safe alternative to pharmacological continuation or maintenance therapy alone.
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