• ECT;
  • Nordic countries;
  • indication;
  • unilateral ECT;
  • bilateral ECT;
  • inquiry


In 1977 a questionnaire was sent to all psychiatric departments in the Nordic countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, concerning indications for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and the use of unilateral and bilateral treatment, respectively. The inquiry was repeated in 1987 and the answers compared with those obtained in 1977. In addition, the answers from Denmark were compared with previously performed inquiries. The use of exclusively unilateral treatment (U) and of both unilateral and bilateral treatment (UB) has increased in most of the countries and exclusively bilateral treatment (B) has decreased drastically. In Denmark the situation has not changed for ECT in endogenous depression and acute delirium, and the use in reactive psychosis, mania and schizophrenia decreased somewhat during the 1970s and then again stabilized or increased during the 1980s. Nearly all departments in the Nordic countries used ECT in endogenous depression in 1977 and were still doing it in 1987. In mania, about 50% of all departments have found ECT indicated occasionally or exceptionally both in 1977 and 1987. Manic-depressive mixed states have been regarded as an indication in somewhat more than two thirds of departments, increasing during the period. The use of ECT in schizophrenia has been rare and somewhat decreasing, but still about half of the departments apply it once in a while. In reactive psychosis the use of ECT decreased slightly, but in 1987 it was still in use for this indication in about 50% of all departments. In acute delirium there has been an overall increase in the use of ECT. ECT is still a widely used treatment in the Nordic countries, especially so in endogenous depression, manic-depressive mixed states and acute delirium, and with a trend towards an increase in these conditions.