Improvement of Psychiatric Symptoms after Electroconvulsive Therapy in Young Adults with Intractable First-Episode Schizophrenia and Schizophreniform Disorder

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Schizophrenia is a serious psychiatric disorder that develops mainly in young adults. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is known to be effective and safe in patients with schizophrenia with acute psychotic exacerbation. Because of the shortage of systematic studies, we conducted a prospective naturalistic study to examine the short-term effects of acute ECT and its safety in young adults with medically intractable first-episode schizophrenia. Subjects were seven consecutive patients, 15-35 years of age, with first-episode schizophrenia or schizophreniform disorder (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition; DSM-IV), who had failed to respond to neuroleptics. The seven patients were treated with a first course of ECT, and their clinical symptoms were evaluated on the basis of the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) (18 items, rated 0-6) and Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Scale. The GAF Scale is presented in DSM-IV as a means of assessing global functioning of a psychiatric patient. Scores range from 1-100; the higher GAF score indicates the higher global functioning. Adverse effects resulting from acute ECT were also evaluated. The total BPRS score 1 week after the final session improved significantly compared to the total pre-ECT BPRS score. The GAF score also improved significantly compared to the pre-ECT GAF score. There were no adverse effects during the acute ECT course, except for mild delirium. We conclude that ECT may be an effective and safe treatment option for young adults with intractable first-episode schizophrenia.


  • Tohoku J. Exp. Med.  

    Tohoku J. Exp. Med. 210(3), 213-220, 2006-11-01 

    Tohoku University Medical Press

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