Few recent studies have investigated the prescription of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to depressed patients and their progress thereafter under ordinary clinical conditions. From case records, 412 courses of ECT were studied. ECT was efficacious in the short term, especially for patients with psychotic depression and for those over 65 years of age. Fifty-three per cent of patients required readmission in the six months following the index course. Neither age nor psychosis predicted whether readmission occurred. While short-term outcome is good, notably for the elderly and the psychotically depressed, patients are highly liable to relapse after ECT. High quality after-care is thus of paramount importance.
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