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A TEN-YEAR FOLLOW-UP STUDY OF ELECTROCOMA THERAPY
J. L. FETTERMAN; V. M. VICTOROFF; J. HORROCKS
Am J Psychiatry 1951;108:264-270.
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The Fetterman Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio.

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Abstract

1. The immediate results of ECT are generally excellent, providing marked relief of symptoms in many psychoses. This relief amounts to a recovery in a high percentage of depressed patients.2. A 10-year follow-up of 65 patients in whom depression was the cardinal difficulty reveals that 45 were relatively well, 16 moderately or slightly improved, and 4 unchanged or worse up to the time of the last contact.3. Recurrences are common. Thirty-two of the depressed patients have had recurrences requiring further courses of treatment. After subsequent therapy, 18 were relatively well and the condition of 14 was fair or poor.4. Electrocoma therapy does not accelerate or retard recurrences.5. The immediate complications were few and relatively insignificant compared to the benefits obtained. The 9- to 10-year follow-up revealed no cumulative complications; we did not encounter epilepsy, spinal deformities, or mental deterioration due to the treatment.6. During the 9-to 10-year study there were 9 deaths, the first occurring 1 year and the last 10 years after treatment, from causes unrelated to the treatment.7. Ambulatory ECT is effective. Properly administered by a competent psychiatrist with critical patient selection, it saves time, money, prestige, and suffering and enables a smoother integration of electrocoma therapy with other methods of treatment.8. Present-day treatment makes it possible to administer ECT in a relatively safe, comfortable manner, removing the psychological atmosphere of shock.9. Electrocoma therapy has proved valuable in the prevention of suicides.10 Finally, electrocoma therapy has proved itself to be the outstanding addition to psychiatric therapy in the fifth decade of the present century. It is not a static, but a growing technique, which is being modified and improved and which should continue to help psychotic patients until newer and better procedures are introduced.

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