Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is considered an effective treatment for major depression with melancholic features. However, neurocognitive side-effects such as anterograde amnesia still regularly occur. The present study aims to evaluate the severity and course of anterograde amnesia in severely depressed patients undergoing ECT. In a prospective naturalistic study, anterograde memory function was assessed among inpatients who underwent ECT (n = 11). Subjects met DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder. Recruitment took place between March 2010-March 2011 and March 2012-March 2013. Controls treated with antidepressants (n = 9) were matched for age, gender and depression severity. Primary outcome measure was immediate recall; secondary outcome measures were delayed recall, recognition, and visual association. Differences were tested using repeated measures ANOVA and paired t-tests. Correlations with hypothesized covariates were calculated. In patients with major depressive disorder, ECT had a significant effect on delayed memory function (p<0.01 with large effect sizes). Findings on immediate recall were less consistent. Four weeks after treatment discontinuation, these memory functions had recovered. Age was identified as a very important covariate. The main limitations of our study are its naturalistic design, possibly compromising internal validity, and its small sample size. However, if these findings can be reproduced in a more comprehensive study group, then the possible induction of anterograde amnesia is not a justifiable reason for clinicians to disregard ECT as a treatment option.

doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165392, hdl.handle.net/1765/93940
Department of Psychiatry

Boere, I., Kamperman, A., Van't Hoog, A.E. (Arianne E.), van den Broek, W., & Birkenhäger, T. (2016). Anterograde amnesia during electroconvulsive therapy: A prospective pilot-study in patients with major depressive disorder. PLoS ONE, 11(10). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165392