Body temperature rises following improvement of depression with ECT

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.

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