Urine catecholamine levels are not influenced by electroconvulsive therapy in depression or schizophrenia over the long term


Correspondence: Masanobu Ito, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Juntendo University Faculty of Medicine, 2-1-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8431, Japan. Email: masa110@juntendo.ac.jp



Change in catecholamine seems to be associated with not only effects of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), but also adverse events associated with ECT. Our aim in this study was to investigate whether or not ECT influences the concentration of catecholamine over the long term. Patients with a major depressive episode or schizophrenia, diagnosed according to DSM-IV criteria, who were newly admitted to Juntendo University Hospital to receive ECT, were recruited.


Urine was collected during the 24 h before the first ECT treatment, during the 24 h after the first ECT treatment, during the 24 h after the final ECT treatment and during the 24 h 1 week after the final ECT treatment. Heart rate, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression and the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale were assessed before and after ECT.


Twenty-four patients were included in the final sample, which consisted of 14 patients with major depressive episodes and 10 patients with schizophrenia. Abnormal electrocardiograms were indicated in four patients with depression during the ECT operation but all recovered naturally. There were no significant differences in the levels of dopamine, adrenaline or noradrenaline the day before the first ECT, a day after the first ECT, a day after the final ECT and a week after the final ECT.


These results suggest that ECT does not alter urine catecholamine levels after ECT over the long term. Further studies will be required to confirm these findings in a larger sample of patients.