BACKGROUND: Recent studies have reported hyperthermia is an efficacious treatment for depression. Thus, we hypothesized that a proven depression therapy such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) would be associated with an increase in body temperature.
METHODS: A retrospective chart analysis was conducted on 33 participants who recovered from depression after a course of ECT. All were hospitalized for recurrent, severe symptoms and had no previous ECT treatment. Oral temperature recordings before and after the first and last ECT treatments were collected for each participant. Statistical analysis was performed using paired t test.
RESULTS: No significant change in mean oral temperature occurred after the first ECT, but a significant increase from baseline was observed after the final ECT treatment when depression symptoms had clinically remitted (P < .009).
CONCLUSIONS: Improvement in clinical depression with ECT is correlated with an increase in body temperature. Body temperature may have potential as a biomarker for ECT efficacy, and possibly for antidepressant pharmacotherapies.