Objectives: We report our experience with a medication-refractory patient with bipolar I disorder, who remained clinically stable under continuation electroconvulsive therapy (C-ECT). We found ECT to be effective in providing functionality for a patient when various medications had failed.
Methods and results: A 53-year-old woman with a 31-year history of recurrent manic and depressive episodes poorly responsive to medications warranted an ECT trial. Remission was achieved after 12 treatments and C-ECT at weekly intervals was used as maintenance therapy. C-ECT was continued for 37 months and 85 treatments, and discontinued when anesthetic difficulties precluded further treatment. Three months after the last ECT, she was readmitted in a severe manic relapse. Restarting ECT caused rapid remission. There are no signs of cognitive deterioration during C-ECT.
Conclusion: Long-term C-ECT is an effective and safe prophylactic treatment in individual treatment-resistant patients with bipolar disorder.