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June 1983

Electroconvulsive Treatment and Lithium CarbonateTheir Effects on Norepinephrine Metabolism in Patients With Primary, Major Depressions

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1983;40(6):677-680. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.04390010087011

• Effects of electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) and lithium carbonate on norepinephrine metabolism were investigated in eight patients with primary, major depressions. A series of 12 ECTs reduced urinary norepinephrine and normetanephrine output significantly, and showed a tendency to reduce urinary vanillylmandelic acid output as well as whole-body norepinephrine turnover. Treatment with lithium carbonate significantly reduced urinary norepinephrine, normetanephrine, 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol, and vanillylmandelic acid output as well as whole-body norepinephrine turnover. These findings point to a common effect of antidepressant treatments since they are similar to results produced by administration of three other types of antidepressant drugs: clorgiline, a specific monoamine oxidase A inhibitor; desipramine, a relatively specific norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor; and zimelidine, a relatively specific serotonin reuptake inhibitor. These drugs reduce total production of norepinephrine and/or its major metabolites in depressed patients. Thus, five antidepressant treatments with different mechanisms of action have a common overall effect on the system.

(Arch Gen Psychiatry 1983;40:677-680)