While current treatment guidelines for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) do not recommend electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the NIMH is supporting new research into the use of ECT and deep brain stimulation (DBS) for OCD treatment. Leonardo Fontenelle and his colleagues at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil set out to examine studies on ECT treatment for OCD and found the existing research to be too limited and inconclusive.
Their analysis, published in the July 2015 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, reviewed 50 articles on the treatment effects of ECT on OCD and found that in over 60% of cases OCD patients had a positive response to ECT but the lack of any randomized control trials limited the weight of the existing evidence.
The researchers concluded: “Although nonrandomized and cohort studies, case series, and some single case reports have suggested beneficial effects of ECT in OCD under special circumstances, these studies are limited by a lack of standardized assessment of results, history of less than optimal treatment of OCD, and poorly defined treatment resistance”
Fontenelle, L. F., Coutinho, E. S., Lins-Martins, N. M., Fitzgerald, P. B., Fujiwara, H., & Yücel, M. (2015). Electroconvulsive therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder: a systematic review. The Journal of clinical psychiatry. (Abstract)