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Electroconvulsive therapy use in adolescents: a systematic review

Nádia NR Lima1, Vânia B Nascimento1, Jorge AC Peixoto1, Marcial M Moreira1, Modesto LR Neto2*, José C Almeida3, Carlos AC Vasconcelos4, Saulo A Teixeira5, Jucier G Júnior5, Francisco TC Junior5, Diego DM Guimarães5, Aline Q Brasil5, Jesus S Cartaxo1, Marco Akerman1 and Alberto OA Reis6

Author Affiliations

1 Health Sciences Postgraduate Program, Faculty of Medicine, ABC Foundation, Santo André, São Paulo 09060-650, Brazil

2 Research Group CNPq/UFC: Information Technology, Communication, Narrativity, Society and Plural Identities, Federal University of Ceará (UFC), Juazeiro do Norte, Ceará 63.048-060, Brazil

3 Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG), Cajazeiras, Paraíba 58900-000, Brazil

4 Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Postgraduate Program, Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), Recife, Pernambuco 50.670-420, Brazil

5 Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Ceará (UFC), Barbalha, Ceará 63180-000, Brazil

6 Public Health Faculty, University of São Paulo (USP), São Paulo 01246-904, Brazil

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Annals of General Psychiatry 2013, 12:17  doi:10.1186/1744-859X-12-17

Published: 30 May 2013



Considered as a moment of psychological vulnerability, adolescence is remarkably a risky period for the development of psychopathologies, when the choice of the correct therapeutic approach is crucial for achieving remission. One of the researched therapies in this case is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The present study reviews the recent and classical aspects regarding ECT use in adolescents.


Systematic review, performed in November 2012, conformed to the PRISMA statement.


From the 212 retrieved articles, only 39 were included in the final sample. The reviewed studies bring indications of ECT use in adolescents, evaluate the efficiency of this therapy regarding remission, and explore the potential risks and complications of the procedure.


ECT use in adolescents is considered a highly efficient option for treating several psychiatric disorders, achieving high remission rates, and presenting few and relatively benign adverse effects. Risks can be mitigated by the correct use of the technique and are considered minimal when compared to the efficiency of ECT in treating psychopathologies.