Research Article

Electric convulsion therapy in depression: a double-blind controlled trial.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 31 January 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:355
  1. E D West


    The therapeutic effect of simulated and real bilateral electric convulsion therapy was examined in a double-blind, randomised trial on 22 patients with a primary depressive illness. Each treatment was given twice weekly for three weeks and the results assessed by the psychiatrist using a visual analogue rating scale, nurses using a nine-point rating scale, and the patients themselves using the Beck Depression Inventory. With all three methods of assessment patients given the real treatment substantially improved (p less than 0.001), whereas those given simulated treatment showed little change. Three weeks after substituting real treatment for simulated, however, these patients were also significantly improved (psychiatrist's rating p less than 0.001; nurses' rating p less than 0.005; Beck inventory p less than 0.005). These findings confirm the value of electric convulsion therapy in severe depressive illness and strongly suggest that the convulsion is important for the therapeutic effect.