When is electroconvulsive therapy appropriate for children and adolescents?

Lee Elizabeth Wachtel, Dirk M. Dhossche, Charles H. Kellner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The indications for electroconvulsive therapy in children and adolescents are similar to those in adults, including severe affective, psychotic and catatonic pathology that has proven refractory to psychotropic medications and causes significant functional impairment. ECT may be indicated as well in specific pediatric neurological conditions. Multiple published reports demonstrate the safety and efficacy of ECT in pediatric patients with a wide range of psychopathology. ECT has also been successfully used in youth with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities who present with catatonic deterioration. However, resistance and stigma persist regarding the use of ECT in children and adolescents in both the professional and lay communities, creating barriers to pediatric ECT access. We argue that the use of ECT in children and adolescents is appropriate for specific clinical indications, and urge removal of impediments to ECT access in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-399
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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